This is the first time the federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, which governs the disposal of solid and hazardous waste, has been applied to animal waste from a farm.
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A U.S. federal court has ruled for the first time that manure from livestock facilities can be regulated as solid waste, a decision hailed by environmentalists as opening the door to potential legal challenges against facilities across the country.

A large dairy in Washington state, Cow Palace Dairy, polluted ground water by over applying manure to soil, ruled Judge Thomas Rice of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Washington on Wednesday.

“The practices of this mega-dairy are no different than thousands of others across the country,” said Jessica Culpepper, an attorney at Public Justice, one of the firms that represented the plaintiffs, a collection of public advocacy groups.

The case is scheduled to go to trial in March to decide the extent of the contamination and the clean-up.