Denco II LLC consistently exceeded pollutant limits in its industrial wastewater and stormwater discharges at its ethanol production facility in Morris. The polluted discharges could reduce oxygen in the water and harm aquatic life when they reached lakes, rivers, and wetlands. A Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) enforcement investigation uncovered violations between January 2018 and April 2021 that included:
- Exceeding permitted pollutant in industrial wastewater and stormwater discharges. The company eliminated its wastewater discharge in 2019, but its stormwater discharge continued to exceed pollutant limits.
- Failing to prevent corn byproduct from getting into stormwater discharge.
- Failing to take action that could prevent excess pollutants in its stormwater discharges.
- Failing to record additives used in its wastewater streams that must be approved for use and used only in authorized amounts.
The company paid an $18,634 civil penalty to the MPCA and was required to develop and implement plans to minimize risks of future similar violations, and investigate and mitigate causes of unauthorized discharges.
MPCA rules and regulations are designed to protect human health and the environment by limiting pollution emissions and discharges from facilities. When companies do not fully comply with regulatory requirements, the resulting pollution can be harmful to people and the environment.
When calculating penalties, the MPCA takes into account how seriously the violations affected or could have affected the environment, and whether they were first-time or repeat violations. The agency also attempts to recover the economic benefit the company gained by failing to comply with environmental laws in a timely manner.