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Great Lakes Article:

Manure spill seen as wake-up call
By Joe Belanger
London Free Press (Canada)
Published September 19th, 2004


A hog manure spill in Grand Bend is a wake-up call for Londoners and others about the threat posed by massive livestock factories along the Great Lakes, says a local business operator. "It's not hurting my club; it's about the Great Lakes and they're polluting it," said David Scatcherd, owner of Oakwood Inn Resort.

"It's exactly what we don't need in this part of the country. This part of Lake Huron is where you people in London get your drinking water."

Ontario's Environment Ministry was continuing yesterday its investigation of a manure spill into a creek at the resort.

A ministry official could not be reached for comment.

The spill killed fish, known as chub, in Walker Drain. It's not yet known how much manure spilled from a hog farm east of the village near the Huron County Playhouse.

And it's still not known if any of the smelly black liquid reached the Ausable River and, ultimately, Lake Huron.

The Huron County Heath Unit has posted a warning at the Port Blake Conservation Area beach, just north of Oakwood.

The golf course and resort remained open despite the spill.

Bob Worsell, a health unit inspector, said yesterday the Port Blake beach was posted as a precaution.

Worsell said he's confident the spill won't affect local wells, noting most people in the area are connected to the water system.

"We're doing a risk assessment on local wells and we're not anticipating a problem," Worsell said. "It's a surface problem."

Worsell said Friday if the discharge made it through the mouth of the Ausable and winds were from the northwest, the discharge could reach beaches in neighbouring Lambton County.

Scatcherd said although the manure doesn't appear to be moving through the drain, he's worried that a heavy rain will carry it to the lake.

"It's just sitting there," Scatcherd said.

"But I think people are worried that it's going to seep into the ground like what happened in Walkerton. This is how it happens, isn't it?

"There's been no rain, so it's not moving through the creek. But once the rain does come it will wash it right out. Then what?"

A ministry investigator said Friday it appears the spill occurred when a farmer was pumping manure Wednesday night and the line ruptured. The identity of the farmer was not disclosed by health officials.

The spill was discovered when an Oakwood employee noticed dead fish and a dark substance in the creek at the resort.

A ministry investigator said a report of the probe will go to the ministry's investigations branch, which will determined whether charges are laid.

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