Contact: Dan Olson, (218) 846-7390
Moorhead, Minn. -- American Crystal Sugar has agreed to pay a $185,000 civil penalty and implement management strategies to prevent violations of Minnesota's hydrogen sulfide ambient air standards at its Moorhead, Crookston and East Grand Forks beet-processing factories. The stipulation agreement with the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) also covers alleged violations of fine particle emission standards at the Moorhead and East Grand Forks locations.
The agreement addresses alleged hydrogen sulfide violations at all three locations during 2005, 2006 and 2007. Hydrogen sulfide, an odorous gas that is a byproduct of organic decomposition, can be hazardous to human health at certain concentrations. In this case, the gas came from decomposing sugar beets and sugar beet processing waste.
The company's air emission permits also regulate how much particulate matter (PM) and fine particulate matter (particles less than 10 microns in diameter, or PM10) can be emitted from various combustion sources, such as heaters and dryers. Stack testing on a pellet cooler at the East Grand Forks factory in October 2007 showed a PM10 emission rate of 0.36 pound per hour (lb/hr) above the permitted limit of 0.25 lb/hr.
Stack testing in November 2007 on a kiln at the Moorhead factory recorded a PM emission rate of 12.0 lb/hr and a PM10 emission rate of 8.7 lb/hr, above the 5.0 lb/hr limit for both types of emissions. Later stack tests at both sites showed particulate emissions within permitted limits. Fine particle pollution has been linked to a range of negative health impacts on people with respiratory and cardiac conditions.
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 Web site at/newsceter/enforcement.html.
Minnesota law requires owners and operators of facilities with the potential to release air pollutants to have MPCA permits. They must also carefully monitor and maintain equipment because emissions exceeding state standards can degrade air quality. The MPCA offers outreach and training to help facilities meet their permit requirements.
For more information on air quality permits and emission standards, visit the agency's Web site at http://www.pca.state.mn.us.