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Questions or Comments:

COVID-19 and Milk Disposal

TCEQ has a process to review any case-specific request for milk disposal related to COVID-19.

Is TCEQ coordinating with Texas dairies about provisions in case producers have to dump milk?
We have received questions regarding disposal of milk. The agency has a process to review any case-specific request related to COVID-19.

What are the steps of the process? And what information does TCEQ need from producers to advise them?
During this time of the coronavirus, regulated entities are still required to adhere to permit requirements and agency rules. However, regulated entities may be experiencing impacts due to limitations caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and may need regulatory relief due to resource shortages/delays and to ensure the safety of facility personnel.

TCEQ, on a case-by-case basis, will consider exercising its enforcement discretion for those instances that noncompliance is unavoidable directly due to impact from the coronavirus. In order for this type of action to be considered, regulated entities must demonstrate they were adversely impacted by the virus. Even if enforcement discretion is granted, TCEQ expects affected companies to take all available actions necessary to ensure compliance with environmental regulations and permit requirements to protect the health and safety of Texans and the environment, and regulated entities must maintain records adequate to document activities related to the noncompliance under enforcement discretion.

How many questions about milk disposal has TCEQ received within the past month?
We do not track the number of questions received regarding milk disposal, however, TCEQ has not received any requests for enforcement discretion related to milk disposal.

What are the environmental concerns associated with milk disposal?
In general, raw milk is known to have a high oxygen demand and therefore should not be discharged into surface waters unless properly treated to meet Texas surface water quality standards. If land applied, it should be done in a manner to avoid odors and nuisance conditions. Additionally, milk has a higher nutrient content than manure and therefore may exceed the nutrient needs of the crop/vegetation.

These types of concerns are evaluated for all types of waste disposal and are similarly highly dependent on site specific factors.

Is there a standard disposal process for milk producers to follow, or is each case different?
There is currently no standard disposal process for milk producers. There are several methods for disposal including composting, solidify and landfilling, use in animal feed, and treatment and disposal by a third party authorized to accept and treat the waste.