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Proposed slaughterhouse raises environmental, health concerns

Great Falls is facing a crisis that looms over the horizon, threatening the community, its property values, air quality, and aquifer reserves. The Canadian based company Friesen Foods is proposing the construction of the multi-species slaughterhouse called the Madison Food Park. When it is in full operation it will produce over 100,000 pounds of animal waste and millions of gallons of waste water a day while using 3.5 million gallons of fresh water from the Madison Aquifer. Along with the waste it produces, hundreds of trucks will clog the highways every week.

The “Food Park” is designed to use state-of-the-art green technology by capturing gases that are released in the multiple lagoons and converting them into energy for the building. Overflow from these lagoons will be sprayed on local fields close by. People unfortunate enough to live nearby are susceptible to respiratory infections, headaches, nausea, diarrhea, nosebleeds, earaches, lung burns and even miscarriages and permanent brain damage in children.

Don’t take my word for it, ask the people of North Carolina and they will tell you about the smell and the health problems they experience. Not only does this have health implications, but it opens Montana up to future projects that threaten our natural resources. The citizens of Great Falls should not be the only people concerned. It affects all of Montana and reduces our Big Sky Country to a potential dumping ground for waste, selling out our lands to other countries ultimately exploited for their gain.

The Great Falls community showed up in numbers to voice their concerns at a city council meeting in November. All they heard in response was lack of transparency concerning the complete details of the mega-slaughterhouse from Friesen Foods. A recent online poll shows over 75 percent disapproval rate from Montanans.

-- Jeff Blatnick, Great Falls

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