Officials with the small Magic Valley town of Hollister have some questions about what they they think is a big concern: disposal of acid whey from the giant Chobani Yogurt operation.
This morning's Twin Falls Times-News reports that the city of Hollister has called a special town meeting for Tuesday, June 25, where they'll quiz representatives from Chobani about acid whey—a byproduct from the Greek yogurt plant—and its disposal into a pond near 120 acres of public land owned by Hollister.
"In Idaho, roughly two-thirds of those farmers use [the whey] as a supplement to their livestock feed," Chobani spokeswoman Melissa Stagnaro told the Times-News earlier this month. "Approximately one-third is used as a natural, land-applied fertilizer, but only on farms that have the proper nutrient management plans and permits in place with the the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality and Idaho Department of Agriculture."
The New York Post reported in May that the $2 billion Greek yogurt industry's whey problem was "a waste disposal nightmare."
"We do not, nor have we ever, dumped our whey in a way that is harmful to the environment," said Stagnaro. "Chobani is committed to being a good community partner. That extends to the responsible use of whey."
Hollister officials said Chobani quit dumping its byproduct into a disposal pond near Hollister in May, but city leaders say they want to know if its hauler will resume taking its byproduct to the pond any time in the near future. Even if the operation is legal, officials say the "whey stinks," according to the Times-News.
After its December 2012 opening of a 950,000-square-foot facility in southeast Twin Falls County, Chobani Yogurt quickly became one of the Magic Valley's largest employers.