Boise White Paper LLC penalized for releasing 1.4 million gallons of untreated wastewater to Rainy River

Contact: Stephen Mikkelson 218-316-3887

According to a Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) enforcement investigation, Boise White Paper LLC in International Falls discharged approximately 1.4 million gallons of untreated wastewater to the Rainy River as a result of power outages in October 2020 and May 2021. The company also discharged floating solids and visible pink foam to the Rainy River in March 2021. The foaming was caused by insufficient defoaming agent being added to effluent during production of colored paper. The release was not immediately reported and there was no recovery of accessible foam.

The company paid a $16,965 civil penalty to the MPCA and was required to:

  • Make a plan to ensure no visible foam is released to the river.
  • Identify how any release, spill, or unauthorized discharge will be reported immediately to the State Duty Officer.
  • Provide at least 30 days advance notice of colored paper production at the facility and conduct toxicity tests on treated effluent during colored paper production, as directed by MPCA.
  • Create a plan for preventing releases of untreated wastewater during power outages that will ensure emergency power to critical pumps is available to prevent 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.