Kansas environmental regulators have approved a permit for a new hog-feeding complex in Greeley County, a move that will vastly expand Seaboard Foods' operations in the state and generate wastes that conservationists say are equivalent to a city of 1 million people.
The Kansas Department of Health and Environment issued a permit Tuesday for the Shawnee Mission-based Seaboard Foods to build nine lagoons to house waste from 120 enclosed swine buildings with a total of 132,000 pigs.
The Ladder Creek West site will be located about nine miles from its existing operations in the sparsely populated western Kansas county and swells Seaboard's operations there to 330,000 mature hogs.
Seaboard Foods said in an email Thursday that it has not yet scheduled the start of construction.
The Kansas chapter of the Sierra Club has long opposed the hog operations, questioning whether the Ogallala Aquifer has enough water left to properly operate the facilities.
Seaboard's barns are located above a part of the aquifer that the Kansas Geological Survey has deemed effectively exhausted for agricultural purposes. But Seaboard says it has enough water to run the existing complex and the new site, citing flow tests of wells show a sufficient amount of water.
KDHE is not required by statute or regulation to ensure the facility has access to sufficient water to properly operate its waste management system. If Seaboard does not meet permit requirements, KDHE can require the company to modify its design or operation.