Farmers Union Industries LLC agreed to pay $130,000 for wastewater overflow and other violations at its Central Bi-Products rendering plants in Redwood Falls and Long Prairie, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency reported Wednesday, Sept. 30..
The primary violations included operating wastewater treatment ponds above the permitted maximum level.
Central Bi-Products processes animal carcasses into feed and fat products. Both the Redwood Falls and Long Prairie facilities processed significantly more raw material in 2018 than amounts submitted in their permit application. The additional raw material processing created additional wastewater volume, which contributed to elevated wastewater pond levels.
A wastewater pond at the Redwood Falls facility overflowed in March 2019 and released between 112,000 and 336,000 gallons, some of which reached wetlands in the Minnesota River floodplain. The MPCA had previously informed the Redwood Falls facility about pond level requirements. Other violations included the unauthorized release of raw material liquids, and shortfalls in reporting and recordkeeping.
Through its stormwater discharges, the Long Prairie facility sent raw material liquids into the nearby Long Prairie River or wetlands. It failed to keep levels in its wastewater treatment ponds low enough. It discharged fuel from its diesel fuel dispensing area and storage-tank secondary containment structure. Other violations included improper stormwater sampling procedures, and failure to include all sampling results in compliance reports.
Both sites attained compliance with their permit requirements and will be monitoring groundwater, doing pond water-balance testing, adopting alternative wastewater treatment options, setting up training, and creating an emergency response plan.
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 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 economic benefit the company gained by failing to comply with environmental laws in a timely manner.