Lawsuit over farm waste filed

A group of Antes Fort area residents have filed a lawsuit in Lycoming County Court against the individuals and businesses they say are causing health hazards and ruining their quality of life by spreading liquefied animal waste on farm lands near where they live.

The case, which was filed Tuesday in the county prothonotary’s office, alleges temporary nuisance, failure to abate and negligence on the parts of Nicholas Meat LLC, of 508 E. Valley Road, Loganton; Brett Bowes, of 305 Nippenose Road, Jersey Shore; Camerer Farms Inc., of 374 Long Lane, Jersey Shore; and JAB Livestock, LLC, a trucking company owned by Bowes.

Plaintiffs in the case are asking for a jury to decide if they should be financially compensated to pay for health problems and other issues resulting from animal waste that is trucked in from Nicholas Meat by Bowes and spread on farm lands as fertilizer.

The filing lists as plaintiffs: Kelly and Shawn Branton along with their children, of 1064 Nippenose Road, Jersey Shore; Pat and Philip Courtright, of 1133 Long Lane, Jersey Shore; Gary and Georgina Johnson, of 254 Antes Fort Main St., Jersey Shore; Carol Kline, of 919 State St., Antes Fort; Richard Long, of 18 Long Lane, Jersey Shore; Ann and Thomas McKean of 1381 Nippenose Road, Jersey Shore; Deborah and Stephen Muthler, of 258 Red Oak Lane, Antes Fort; Stephen and Susan Rice, of 249 Antes Fort Main St.; and Kim Shipman, of 48 Shipman Lane, Jersey Shore.

A Kansas City, Mo. law firm that specializes in environmental law and factory farm cases has been retained by the group, according to court documents.

Messages to some of the plaintiffs including Kelly Branton and Kline were not returned.

Bowes said Thursday afternoon he had no knowledge of the lawsuit and did not receive any paperwork pertaining to it.

The plaintiffs allege that the animal waste – which includes blood, manure, urine and a mix of slaughterhouse chemicals – has seeped into public waterways, wells and nearby properties. At least one plaintiff has alleged health problems directly related to the waste including asthma attacks, difficulty breathing, inflamed lungs, bloody noses, diarrhea, nausea, recurring headaches and sinus problems.

According to the lawsuit, a 2.4 million gallon waste storage tank is owned and operated by William R. Camerer III; Bowes operates the farm where the tank is located; and Camerer rents a portion of the farm property owned by Bowes who allows Camerer to apply the waste on the farm lands.

The lawsuit states that a “traveling gun” is used to project waste “high into the air, causing it to be blown far from the location where it is indented to be applied.”

In addition to causing malodors, the plaintiffs allege that they are subject to toxic gases, pathogens, antibiotics, flies, insects, turkey vultures and sea gulls “far beyond the 2.4 million gallon tank and the land application fields.”

They also allege that the waste has been “grossly mismanaged” and that those involved in spreading the waste have disregarded their duties and responsibilities for proper handling, storage and application.

The lawsuit also alleges that the defendants have violated several sections of the state code that control storage of residual waste. Plaintiffs allege that the storage tank violates code by not having a cover or lid and fails to minimize hazards, odors, dust and unsightliness. In addition, they allege that the tank was not designed with best engineering practice to control leaks or infestation from vermin.

Plaintiffs have alleged that those involved failed to take appropriate action to stop or minimize the problems they have encountered.