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Published May 01, 2012, 08:43 PM

Residents Near Once-polluting MN Dairy Farm Welcome Changes

THIEF RIVER FALLS, MN (WDAZ-TV) - Some rural Thief River Falls people who fought to have a dairy farm closed, are getting to see the signs of their victory.

By: David Schwab, WDAZ

THIEF RIVER FALLS, MN (WDAZ-TV) - Some rural Thief River Falls people who fought to have a dairy farm closed, are getting to see the signs of their victory.

Parts of the Excel Dairy farm, which once caused health issues, is being dismantled of the next couple of weeks.

The new owner of the dairy farm property, who is a local contractor, is filling in the lagoons and remodeling the barns.

Neighbors living around Excel Dairy, have been fighting for this day for years.

Bulldozers and Backhoes pushed down the earthen dikes and filled in the lagoons that once stored animal waste at the former Excel Dairy farm.

Jeff Brouse lives about a half mile from the dairy farm. He fought alongside his neighbors for the better part of a decade to shut it down. The problem was the stench coming from the farm and the health hazards that also came with it.

"People had to be moved out of their homes. It was unbelievable," Brouse said.

Neighbors complained about the issues to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, and at first little was done.

"For a time there we felt like we were living in a third world country. No one would do anything for us," Brouse said.

Those living around the farm took it upon themselves to monitor the levels of hydrogen sulfide coming off the lagoons. The extreme levels of the gas finally got the attention of MPCA.

"Getting monitors to actually measure the hydrogen sulfide was the turning point in our case. We had proof of what the hydrogen levels really were," Harvey Lambert said.

The dairy farm in the end would lose its permit and last december the farm was sold to local contractor Nelson Services. Owner Mike Nelson says he had some good offers from other dairy farms who wanted to reopen the dairy.

"Just putting it back into a dairy again. A company down south wanted to add on to their operation, but I felt we need the land worse than anybody," Nelson said.

Neighbors say it was a long and hard fight and seeing this week's destruction of the lagoons sweetens the victory.

"If one good thing did come out of this is some of us neighbors got to be close and good friends," Brouse said.

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