Report: Air quality around dairy poses health risks

Excel Dairy
State health officials say neighbors of this dairy farm north of Thief River Falls have been repeatedly exposed to elevated levels of hydrogen sulfide.
MPR Photo/Tom Robertson

A new report by the Health Department reiterates that a large dairy operation near Thief River Falls is a public health hazard that needs to be addressed.

Last fall, preliminary Health Department data showed that hydrogen sulfide gas emissions from Excel Dairy posed a health risk to nearby residents. The agency's final report now confirms that air quality around the dairy has repeatedly violated state standards.

The report recommends that Excel Dairy take immediate steps to control releases of hydrogen sulfide gas. It also suggests that the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency keep close tabs on any future emissions. The MPCA is already reviewing possible changes to the company's permit.

The Health Department's Rita Messing said, hopefully, residents will get some relief soon.

"You know I'd like to be optimistic that these new permit conditions are going to work or that there won't be a permit or that something will happen so that the situation is better," Messing said.

The agency will present its results during a public meeting tonight at the Thief River Falls City Hall beginning at 6 p.m.

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