ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency has denied a permit for a large hog farm proposed for Fillmore County in southeastern Minnesota.

MPCA Commissioner John Linc Stine told reporters Tuesday he denied the general permit for the Catalpa swine facility near Mabel because of the threat to public health in the geologically porous karst region.

Stine says groundwater nitrate levels in 19 of the county’s 24 townships already exceed the safe drinking water standard.

The commissioner says denying the permit means there’s no need to decide on requests by project opponents for a full environmental impact statement. He’s recommending a broader study of groundwater pollution in the region instead.

He also says Waukon, Iowa-based Catalpa still has the option of starting over and applying for what’s called an individual permit.

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