Transnational Research Associates

Hazardous Contamination

at the

McAnally Enterprises Egg Production Facility

Berino, New Mexico

Art Madsen, M.Ed.

The New Mexico Environment Department (NMED) and local residents in the vicinity of Berino, New Mexico, have been aware of a potentially threatening health problem, caused by McAnally Enterprises, affecting several vital life support factors, such as water potability and air quality, over a period of at least three years. Because the health and welfare of adjacent human populations may be adversely affected by the McAnally operation, it appears necessary to analyze the impact that this California-based firm, whose President is Carlton R. Lofgren, is presently having both on the community of Berino and county-wide.

Attention will be focused, firstly, on the ethnic and demographic composition of Berino, the scope of the McAnally Operation, and the nature of potential and actual problems created by this egg production facility. Secondly, the report will concentrate on probable relationships between contamination factors and health risks to the local population. Subsequently, methods whereby observations were made will be briefly discussed. Poultry-related information concerning existing EPA and USDA regulations will be presented from authenticated source material, and, lastly, recommendations for further investigation and concluding remarks will be offered.

The community of Berino, under the auspices of the City of Las Cruces, is located 16 miles from its parent city in South Central New Mexico in Dona Ana County, one of the nation’s poorest counties, as documented in Cook’s ERS Typology Coding system (1995). The socio-economic status of this community’s population, with the exception of the McAnally operation, could be described as ‘bare subsistence’ level. The permanent residential population of Berino, according to the 1990 Census, amounts to only 874 persons in all nine census blocks, exclusive of seasonal and undocumented immigrants. The ethnic break-down of the population, for official purposes, is 866 Whites and 8 Blacks. Persons of Hispanic origin seem to be classified by the U.S. Census Bureau as White, but they are separated out on the master data sheets. Berino’s population, therefore, reflects 781 persons of Hispanic origin, that is 89.3% of the total number of residents.

The largest agro-industrial operation in Berino is clearly the McAnally Egg Production plant, which discharges almost 2,200 gallons of wastewater daily, and 112.5 tons of chicken manure per day (NMED, May 1997). Due to effluent generated on such a large scale, major environmental and potential health problems are coming to the attention of the authorities. Extensive documentation from the NMED reveals that environmental engineers have completed detailed analyses of chicken manure and waste removal processes in effect at McAnally. They have discovered apparent violations in existing regulations and codes, notably affecting four observation wells in close proximity to the Berino operation (Figure 4, U.S.G.S., 1995). Federal standards have not always been honored. Pressure is being brought to bear on McAnally, with specific reference to animal waste procedures and sewage disposal (NMED, Nov. 1996). Additionally, certain identifiable contaminants in discharged waste water have been selected by the Water Quality Control Commission (WQCC) for further study. Nitrate plus total Kjeldahl nitrogen have been singled out for special criticism by the WQCC, as have other nitrates and chloride plus miscellaneous dissolved solids, inclusive of phosphorous and nitrogen (Carpenter, 1998).

In addition to the foregoing chemical pollutants, there is also air-borne contamination in the vicinity of the McAnally compound. Literature in the field adequately demonstrates the types of dust and particulate matter that can be generally found in the vicinity of all industrial scale poultry processing operations. For example, Olenchock (1982) documents the existence of easily measurable and highly injurious endo-toxins that are airborne on and around the premises of chicken and egg facilities.

Supplementing these toxins are offensive odors, which, according to Pain (1994, 242), constitute 22% of all residential complaints, second only to the odors caused by swine. Unfortunately, little research has been conducted in odor abatement (Pain, 1994, 250).

It can be readily seen that the McAnally egg production plant in Berino is as much a nuisance as a risk to local residents. The NMED and the USGS have devoted considerable time and effort, at taxpayers’ expense, to document the reasons for carefully monitoring and controlling the frequently marginally lawful procedures used by McAnally.

What are, in fact, the health risks associated with the sources of contamination identified above? The vast tonnages of chicken manure being produced, converted to fertilizer, or discarded by this plant are a main source of danger, especially in proximity to groundwater wells, according to the NMED, as quoted in a McAnally rebuttal letter dated February 25, 1997. In this same letter, McAnally states that the firm had attempted to redress the situation, but claims having misinterpreted earlier NMED directives, particularly with respect to water quality testing in certain sub-units of their facility. Therefore, the sources of contamination probably, even as late as June 2000, still, to some degree or another, exist. Disease can easily result from water, surface and air contaminants. Salmonella, for example, both inside the processing plant, and spread later by careless practices outside the plant, has been known in most chicken facilities to be a major risk to adjacent human populations. Davies and Wray conducted serious research on the prevalence of salmonella inside and outside poultry processing plants. They found traces of S. enteritidis and S. senftenberg at the various plant locations specified on Figure I below:

Outside Facility


Percentage of Samples

Positive for Salmonella

Unloading Sector


Cement Skirt


Drainage Duct


Overhead Trolleys


Poultry Droppings


Spring Hanger


Source: Adapted from Davies and Wray, 1994, 151.


While salmonella has been a widely publicized result of careless practices at such facilities, there are deleterious health effects from air-borne particulate matter, such as dust, dust-mites, and other microorganic lifeforms. There is also scientific evidence that streptococci and staphlococci are present in poultry operations, as are aerobic and anaerobic spores. Fungi are sometimes present causing additional problems. An expanded list of potential diseases contracted by growing chickens is provided in Appendix B (USDA, 1999). All of the foregoing have proven dangerous to human health. While this information is found in the general literature, notably in Hartung (1994, 60-65), there is only sketchy evidence in the case of Berino that such sources of contamination have been spreading widely into the community at large. The NMED and other agencies are expressing concern over the actual pollution of well water, but seem to agree that only ‘potential’ exists for some of the more threatening organisms mentioned above.

During a visit to the Berino McAnally facility, several personal observations were made. Although access to the facility itself was restricted, it became obvious that health precautions were being imposed by the Management. There were harshly worded warning signs preventing entry, but buildings and processing units were clearly visible within close proximity to residential dwellings. There were indications of large amounts of waste material, creating hazards to health. Flies and other insects were in profusion. In fact, 39% of residents in south central New Mexico attest to the fly population being quite high (Table 2, Arnold, 1999, 10). To the north were chemical storage tanks and waste oil receptacles. The USGS survey indicates that water wells are not located at entirely safe distances from these chemical facilities where leakage and spills could, and perhaps do, occur. To the west of the chemical facilities, the "lay houses" are located, 200 feet from the main entry gate. Lay houses are documented to be sources of dust-borne particles and offensive odors, all within a short distance from public access areas. To the immediate northwest were situated the wastewater and solid waste sectors of the operation. See Appendix A, a sketch of the entire facility prepared by the New Mexico Department of Environmental Health (1996).

There are some indications that McAnally may be in violation of certain USDA and EPA regulations. Notably in question are EPA Regulations entitled: Public Law 106-40, Jan. 6, 1999; 42 U.S.C. 7412(r) Amendment to Section 112(r) of the Clean Air Act plus the Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976 (15 U.S.C. s/s 2601 et seq.). Additionally, the Safe Drinking Water Act (42 U.S.C. s/s 300f et seq. (1974) may be infringed due to proximity of manure disposal sites and fertilizer processing in the immediate vicinity of groundwater sources. This is particularly the case since the ground water table is extremely shallow, ranging from 5 to 25 feet, in the sector involved (Arnold, Meister, 1999, 16).

Although it was not possible to proceed with an actual inspection of the McAnally Egg Production facility in Berino during the writer’s on-site visit, there appears to be the strong possibility of violation of several of the foregoing statutes and regulations. Voluminous correspondence between the NMED and McAnally testifies to an on-going and somewhat argumentative dialogue dating back over at least three years in which a number of hazards have been cited. Future investigation seems indicated by researchers or State officials in order to ensure the continued safety of the public residing in the vicinity of this plant. Although McAnally seems to be the only major industrial operation in Berino, there needs to be a viable balance between economic activity and the public’s welfare. Of particular concern is the well-water situation, which, according to USGS and NMED data cited, seems threatened in a number of locations. Seepage of nitrates and toxic discharge into the water table from the 112 tons of chicken manure per day (whether processed as fertilizer or perhaps negligently discarded) represents a distinct risk deserving of further inquiry. A case has been made for air-borne dangers as well, with residual fungi, various microorganic contaminants and dust-mites serving as primary threats under frequently windy conditions in south central New Mexico.

On balance, it is suggested that the resource materials referred to in the body of this analysis be reviewed and that further research be conducted in the interest of ensuring the health of the surrounding population. This should be done on an academic basis, with transferal of tentative findings to authorized government officials who, in turn, would resort to the judicial system to ensure compliance by this over-sized and environmentally unfriendly enterprise controlled by out-of-state financial interests.


Arnold, S., "Dairy Herds and Rural Communities in Southern New Mexico", Environmental Health, July/August 1999, 9-17.

Arnold, S. and Meister, E., "Dairy Feedlot Contributions to Groundwater Contamination", Environmental Health, September 1999, 16-19.

Carpenter, "Nonpoint Pollution of Surface Waters with Phosphorous and Nitrogen", Issues in Ecology, Summer 1998.

Cook, P., ERS Typology Codes, 1989 County Classification System, U.S. Department of Agriculture, January 1995

Davies, R. and Wray, C. "Salmonella Pollution in Poultry Units and Associated Enterprises", Chapter 9, Pollution in Livestock Production Systems, Ed. Dewi, A. et al., CAB International, Oxon, U.K., 1994

Environmental Protection Agency, "Laws and Regulations", Washington, D.C. 1999,

Hartung, J, " The Effect of Airborne Particulates on Livestock and Production", Chapter 4, Pollution in Livestock Production Systems, Ed. Dewi, A. et al., CAB International, Oxon, U.K., 1994.

Leavitt, M, Hand-Drawn Diagram of McAnally Enterprises, Inc., NMED-2, BHO-029, Ground Water Quality Bureau, NMED, May 15, 1997, Appendix A.

Leavitt, M, "Discharge Plan Approval, DP-1140, McAnally Enterprises", Ground Water Quality Bureau, NMED, May 15, 1997.

Nickerson, E., "Selected Hydrologic Data for the Mesilla Ground-Water Basin, 1987 through 1992 Water Years, Dona Ana County, New Mexico and El Paso County, Texas", U.S. Geological Survey, Albuquerque, NM, 1995.

Olenchock, S. "Occupational Exposure to Airborne Endotoxins During Poultry Processing", Toxicology and Environmental Health, February 1982, 339.

Pain, B., "Odour Nuisance from Livestock Production Systems", Chapter 14, Pollution in Livestock Production Systems, Ed. Dewi, A. et al., CAB International, Oxon, U.K., 1994

USDA, 1999 Table Egg Layer Management in the U.S. , Washington, D.C., 1999.

…………………., 1990 Census of Population and Housing – Block Statistics: Dona Ana, NM/ Anthony Division, U.S. Bureau of the Census, 1990.


Appendix A

(See Attachment: Hand-Drawn Diagram of McAnally Entreprises Inc. Poultry Facility)


Appendix B

USDA Data Sheet indicating Diseases Contracted by Chickens during the Growing Period in selected Western Poultry Operations (1999)

Source: USDA, 1999