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Do you live in Morrow or Umatilla County, Oregon and rely on either a public water system or residential wells for your drinking water? Commercial farms, confined animal feeding operations and the Port of Morrow have contaminated your water supply. Fill out the form to find out your rights »

Case Status
U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon
Case Number
Port of Morrow
Lamb Weston Holdings, Inc.
Madison Ranches, Inc.
Threemile Canyon Farms, LLC
Beef Northwest Feeders, LLC
John Does 1-10
File Date


Hagens Berman and its co-counsel, Bliven Law Firm and Heenan & Cook, filed a class-action lawsuit representing those living in Morrow or Umatilla County, Oregon accusing the Port of Morrow, commercial farms and confined animal feeding operations of contaminating groundwater in Oregon’s Lower Umatilla Basin by dumping nitrogen throughout Morrow and Umatilla Counties. Attorneys estimate the issue affects upwards of 46,000 residents, many of whom are children. Nitrogen in excess converts to nitrates in the soil, potentially leading to serious health problems.


Those who rent, own or reside in Morrow or Umatilla County who rely on either a public water system or residential wells for their drinking water are allegedly affected. Attorneys estimate the affected zone encompasses approximately 562 square miles of land in northern Morrow and Umatilla counties. At least 450 residential wells in the GMA have been tested and found to exceed federal standards for safe nitrate levels. If you live in one of the following cities, you may be affected:

  • Boardman
  • Echo
  • Hermiston
  • Irrigon
  • Stanfield

Attorneys say more than 45,000 people, including more than 10,000 children, live within the bounds of the Umatilla GMA, and they may be drinking nitrate-contaminated water that could sicken or kill them.

Lower Umatilla Basin


The lawsuit alleges defendants routinely over-apply commercial fertilizer, animal manure or nitrogen-rich industrial wastewater to fields, and/or allow contaminated wastewater to leach from storage receptacles. It also alleges that defendants who are operating under permits issued by the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) have repeatedly and intentionally violated their permits. For example, the Port of Morrow has been fined for permit violations by the DEQ multiple times, according to attorneys, but it continues to dump more nitrogen-heavy water than its permit allows. Between Nov. 1, 2023, and Jan. 11, 2024, alone, the Port violated its permit at least 395 times, the lawsuit states.

Upon testing his well for nitrate contamination, one of the lawsuit’s named plaintiffs found nitrate levels of 46.8 mg/L, over four times the safe limit of 10 mg/L established by EPA, and more than six times the Oregon GMA trigger threshold of 7 mg/L.

Oregon DEQ says 95% of the nitrate pollution in the affected area is attributable to industrial wastewater treatment and disposal, irrigated agriculture and concentrated animal feeding operations.


Attorneys say the Port of Morrow, commercial farms, and CAFOs have allegedly contributed to “soaring” levels of nitrates in local groundwater. Excess nitrogen converts to nitrates in the soil. Nitrates are harmful at high levels, especially to infants and pregnant women. Excessive nitrates in water can cause serious health problems including:

  • Cancer
  • Thyroid dysfunction
  • Miscarriages
  • Methemoglobinemia, a potentially fatal condition that interferes with infants’ blood oxygen levels


The lawsuit seeks relief under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act to compel the Port of Morrow, commercial farms and CAFOs to conduct assessment and remediation activities necessary to abate the contamination created by their alleged excess wastewater dumping and/or over-application of fertilizer. The lawsuit also brings claims for negligence, trespass, public and private nuisance, and inverse condemnation.

Attorneys seek injunctive relief that would force defendants to end their alleged contaminating practices, compensatory damages for those affected, and the creation of a medical monitoring program to assist affected communities in diagnosing and treating illnesses caused by exposure to excessive nitrates.


Through a class-action lawsuit, individual private citizens can collectively bring claims against those who would otherwise ignore the complaints of individual citizens. A class-action lawsuit seeks to level the playing field, bringing strength to collective action to change harmful practices. If you are a member of the class, you will be covered by the class action should the court approve it as such, but if you wish to help, please contact us.


Complaint Filed
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