Contact: Forrest Peterson, 320-214-3789
Rochester, Minn. -- A dairy processor in Plainview has paid a $35,000 civil penalty for alleged violations involving the discharge of milk-contaminated cooling water to a tributary of the North Fork Whitewater River. In an agreement with the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA), the Plainview Milk Products Cooperative will install new equipment to divert contaminated wastewater to the city's sanitary sewer.
Organic substances such as milk can be pollutants in surface water by taking up dissolved oxygen necessary for fish and other aquatic life. Portions of the Whitewater River on are Minnesota's list of impaired waters because they do not fully support aquatic life.
Water samples of the processing plant's discharged wastewater taken in 2007 showed oxygen demand and total suspended solids above treatment standards for water quality. In October 2007, the city's wastewater treatment facility staff reported seeing a milky-colored discharge in the tributary.
The agreement requires Plainview Milk Products to make regular inspections of the discharge to ensure that any contaminated water is diverted to the city's wastewater treatment facility, and to obtain the appropriate permit for the discharge of industrial wastewater.
A stipulation agreement such as this is one of the tools used to achieve compliance with environmental laws. 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, go to the agency Web site at www.pca.state.mn.us/newscenter/enforcement.html.