BAGLEY, Iowa — What sounds like a scene from a horror film is reality for the Lestina family; their basement was filled with nearly five inches of animal blood, fat and bones as a result of drainage from a meat locker next door.
The Lestina family has lived in their home next to the Dahl’s Custom Meat Locker for ten years but have never had major issues until recently. Nick Lestina said the ownership of the plant changed within the last year.
“They haven’t reached out at all. In fact, they haven’t taken any accountability for it,” Lestina said. “They say it’s not their fault and told me ‘good luck.’ If I want to do anything about it, it’s on my dime and my schedule.”
Channel 13 News reached out to Dahl’s Custom Meat Locker for comment, but it appeared it was closed on Monday. Lestina said he has been in touch with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, which is handling the investigation and has been in touch with the meat locker.
“The meat locker from my standpoint has been pretty cooperative. They have worked with me to come up with a permanent solution so the animal blood, fat and all that stuff is no longer discarded down those floor drains,” said Kevin Wilken, an environment specialist senior with the Iowa DNR.
He said the owner, Katelyn Dahl, said the meat locker had killed hogs and cattle on Thursday, Oct. 3 and flushed the blood down the floor drain. Upon questioning, she said she believes the floor drain discharges into a tile, which is likely connected to the Lestina’s floor drain via the same pipe.
The DNR got the Iowa Department of Health involved because it was a health hazard. The department recommended their family of seven live somewhere else in the meantime to avoid any potential biohazards. Lestina said the Dahl family has been non-compliant in helping cover any costs.
“I’m looking into thousands of dollars with cleanup, over 2,000 just to sanitize the basement,” he said. “I don’t have thousands of dollars to throw away at this.”
Lestina said the blood would have continued rising if it weren’t for his sump pump, which the DNR also confirmed.
“No one wants to see that, smell that. I wouldn’t want that for anybody in their house,” he said.
In the meantime, their family is continuing living elsewhere while they try to clean up the mess. Many items in the basement were ruined, including a bed they were saving for their 1-year-old son. DNR is continuing to investigate this matter and told the meat locker to cease its discharge immediately until they develop a permanent solution.
“I wouldn’t really wish this on anybody, but all I can do is keep moving forward and try to take care of the problem,” Lestina said.