Contact: Dan Olson, 218-846-8108
Detroit Lakes, Minn. — Minn-Dak Farmers Cooperative of Wahpeton, N.D., has taken corrective actions and paid a $70,000 penalty to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) following an investigation into a complaint of smelly, polluted waters in the Rabbit River watershed drainage system.
In May 2011, the MPCA received a complaint of smelly, polluted water in drainage areas that flow to the Rabbit River in Wilkin County. Inspections by agency staff determined that pollution in the drainage system originated from Minn-Dak’s Lyngass, Yaggie and Hawes sugar beet storage locations. Discharges to the drainage system resulted from polluted runoff discharges from the storage sites. The cooperative was cited for these discharges as well as for failing to immediately report them and take immediate steps to mitigate their impact.
In addition, MPCA staff found that regular inspections designed to help identify and/or correct potential stormwater runoff problems were not conducted in accordance with the company’s permit requirements; that errors were made in calculating, implementing and reporting the land application of waste beets; and that material errors were made in inspection reports and that reports failed to include sugar beet juice discharges during fall 2010.
During inspections at the Yaggie, Lyngass and Peet sites, MPCA staff found plastic bottles and other solid waste being disposed of in burn barrels in violation of state solid waste disposal regulations.
The cooperative has aggressively completed numerous actions to address the deficiencies and violations identified during the inspections conducted in May and June of 2011.
When calculating penalties, the MPCA takes into account how seriously the violation affected the environment, whether it is a first-time or repeat violation, and how promptly the violation was reported to appropriate authorities. It also attempts to recover the calculated economic benefit gained by failure to comply with environmental laws in a timely manner. For a comprehensive list of enforcement actions by the MPCA, refer to the agency’s Quarterly Summary of Enforcement Actions web page.