Heron Lake ethanol plant reduces emissions of hazardous air pollutants

Contact: Forrest Peterson, 320-979-1776

An ethanol production plant in Heron Lake is working to reduce above-limit emissions of hazardous air pollutants (HAPs). Heron Lake BioEnergy replaced existing equipment to burn off HAPs in its industrial exhaust, and has agreed to ensure future compliance with emission limits.

Heron Lake BioEnergy started production in 2007. According to the company’s website, the plant uses about 21 million bushels of corn annually, producing an estimated 59 million gallons of ethanol, and 160,000 tons of distillers dried grains used for livestock feed.

Numerous above-limit test results for hazardous air pollutants in 2016 brought a $63,500 penalty from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA). Hazardous air pollutants included particles and organic compounds, some of which can be toxic or cancer-causing at higher levels.

When calculating penalties, the MPCA takes into account how seriously the violations affected the environment, whether they were first-time or repeat violations, and how promptly the violations were reported to authorities. The agency also attempts to recover the calculated economic benefit gained by failure to comply with environmental laws in a timely manner.

For more information about the MPCA’s enforcement activities, visit the Enforcement Primer webpage. For a comprehensive list of enforcement actions, see the MPCA’s Quarterly Summary of Enforcement Actions webpage.