Barrel O’ Fun pays penalty in response to odor problems from wastewater

Contact: Dan Olson, 218-846-8108, cell 218-234-3868

Perham, Minn. — As a result of an investigation by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA), a Perham snack producer, Barrel O’ Fun Snack Foods, is more effectively treating its wastewater before sending it to the city wastewater treatment facility. The investigation was prompted by complaints about wastewater treatment pond odors in the city of Perham. Barrel O’ Fun has agreed to pay a $45,000 penalty for the violations.

The MPCA received numerous complaints beginning in April 2012 that odors from the city’s wastewater treatment ponds prevented residents from opening their windows or hanging clothes outside, and that the odors made them sick. The MPCA found the city had, since 2009, failed to adequately regulate discharges to the wastewater treatment facility from four industrial users: Barrel O’Fun Snack Food, Kenny’s Candy, Tuffy’s Pet Foods and Perham Egg.

After the MPCA required the city to enforce all discharge agreements with local industries, the city took several steps, including assessing Barrel O’Fun surcharges for exceeding pollutant limits in the wastewater the company was sending to the city wastewater treatment facility.

During 2013, the MPCA also conducted inspections and file reviews of Barrel O’Fun, which showed that corn pieces were present in the company’s wastewater in amounts that could obstruct flow in the city’s wastewater treatment facility. During construction of upgrades to the city’s treatment facilities, a mound of corn more than three feet high was found and removed from the area around inlet pipes.

In addition, wastewater discharges of total suspended solids and organic material from Barrel O’Fun were often very high between 2009 and 2013. During June 2013, the company discharged a certain type of organic material at a rate more than 2 ½ times its daily limit, and at a level that exceeded the design limit for the city’s entire system (all industrial and residential users) by more than 30 percent.

In addition to paying a $45,000 penalty, the company has completed several actions to comply with wastewater pollutant limits agreed upon with the city.

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.