The Environmental Protection Agency is ordering Seaboard Farms to investigate and fix suspected leaks in hog manure lagoons that the agency is convinced are contaminating water wells in Major and Kingfisher counties in Oklahoma. To comply with the order, Seaboard must provide 100 gallons of water for each member of four families living near pork operations.

EPA claims there’s a direct link between pork operations and elevated nitrate levels, even though the area was known to have high nitrate levels before pork operations were built in the area. The agency is ordering Seaboard to deliver the water because nitrate readings in one of the wells exceeded the federal limit of 10 parts per million. The other wells tested below 10 ppm.

The action taken was under the federal Resource Conservationa and Recovery Act. The 100-page order states that “there is or has been a mishandling of solid waste,” and Seaboard must come up with a “remedial action plan.”

EPA says the order identifies the leaking effluent as solid waste, and does not apply to the manure in the lagoon or that which is land-applied.

According to Seaboard spokesman Gary Reckrodt, EPA contends since the test wells are near the families’ properties, they don’t feel the drinking water is safe even though it is testing below the federal level. Seaboard is complying with the order and continuing to monitor it’s wells. He notes that Seaboard purchased these operations in early 2000.