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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Idaho

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, March 15, 2021

Shoshone Dairy Farm and Its Owner Sentenced for Clean Water Act Violation

BOISE – 4 Brothers Dairy, Inc. (4 Bros.) and its owner, Andrew Fitzgerald, 60, of Shoshone, Idaho, were sentenced in U.S. District Court for unlawful discharge of pollutant into a water of the United States, a misdemeanor violation of the Clean Water Act, announced Acting U.S. Attorney Rafael M. Gonzalez, Jr. today.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Candy W. Dale ordered 4 Bros. to pay a $95,000 fine and ordered Fitzgerald to pay a $35,000 fine. As part of its plea agreement entered in the case, 4 Bros. also agreed to obtain a National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit issued under the Clean Water Act by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). NPDES permits are designed to control water pollution by regulating point sources, such as large dairies, that discharge pollutants into waters of the United States. Judge Dale also imposed one year of probation on 4 Bros.

According to court records, 4 Bros. is a dairy and concentrated animal feeding operation operating in Shoshone with at least 1,000 head of cattle. It maintains waste-water lagoons that are adjacent to the Milner-Gooding Canal, which flows to the Malad River and on to the Snake and Columbia Rivers. In the winter season of 2017, record precipitation, record snowpack, and flooding occurred, leading to extreme runoff at the 4 Bros. property. In February 2017, during this period of flooding, 4 Bros. and Fitzgerald negligently caused discharges of manure-laden water into the Milner Gooding Canal at three locations.

Specifically, on February 10, 2017, a catchment area on the east side of the dairy overtopped, inadvertently breached, and discharged snowmelt along with manure into the canal. 4 Bros. and Fitzgerald were aware of the discharge during that time but did not attempt to repair the lagoon until February 23, 2017. 4 Bros. and Fitzgerald admitted that failing to repair the discharge for 14 days was criminally negligent under the circumstances.

Two other discharges occurred between February 19 and February 22, 2017. On the west side of the dairy, 4 Bros. used earth-moving equipment to cut open a berm and lined it with plastic to cause manure-laden wastewater from a lagoon to flow into the canal. At the central portion of the dairy, 4 Bros. mechanically pumped manure-laden wastewater from a wastewater lagoon into the canal. 4 Bros. additionally admitted that these discharges were negligent under the circumstances.

“The United States Attorney’s Office takes seriously any business, corporation, or individual that violates federal environmental laws. Even the negligent discharge of pollutants into the waters of the United States is simply unacceptable,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Gonzalez. “The sentence holds the defendants accountable for their actions in violating the Clean Water Act, and our office will continue to work with the EPA and our state and local partner agencies in the State of Idaho to hold offenders of the Clean Water Act accountable,” he concluded.

“The defendants’ conduct led to a serious impact to water quality in the state of Idaho,” said Scot Adair, Special Agent in Charge of EPA’s Criminal Investigation Division in the Northwest. “EPA and the Department of Justice hold accountable companies and individuals that pollute our waterways.”

As part of the plea agreement, 4 Bros. also agreed to commit no further Clean Water Act violations and to provide the EPA and state regulators with full access to 4 Bros.’ operations as well as books and records upon reasonable notice to ensure compliance with the Clean Water Act.

Acting U.S. Attorney Gonzalez commended the cooperative investigation by the Environmental Protection Agency, Idaho Department of Environmental Quality, Idaho Department of Agriculture, and the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office, which led to the charges.

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Topic(s): 
Environment
Contact: 
CASSIE FULGHUM Public Information Officer (208) 334-1211
Updated March 15, 2021