MPCA reaches settlement with Hastings flour company on air quality violations

Contact: Ralph Pribble, 651-757-2657

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) has signed an agreement with the Ardent Mills Flour Company of Hastings, Minn. resolving air-quality violations.  The company agreed to correct the violations and will pay a $32,485 civil penalty.

The violations stem from the company’s failure to obtain proper authorization from the state before making major changes to its air pollution-control systems. The company replaced part of its filtration equipment, which would have required a major amendment to the facility’s existing air quality permit, without applying for the required amendment.  Instead, the company continued operations with the new equipment under the old permit.    

The company eventually applied for the permit amendment. When the MPCA subsequently conducted a routine inspection, a number of other air-quality violations were discovered, the most serious of which involved not operating the pollution-control equipment within permitted limits.  Taken together, the violations created the potential for unpermitted emissions of fine particles and other pollutants.
MPCA permits are designed to protect human health and the environment by limiting pollution emissions and discharges from facilities.  When companies operate without the required permits, the resulting pollution can be harmful to people and the environment.

The company has since corrected the violations and agreed to operate under the pollution-control requirements of its amended permit.  

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 a comprehensive list of enforcement actions, see the MPCA’s Quarterly Summary of Enforcement Actions webpage.