Polluters told to clean up and pay up

  • Article by: JANE FRIEDMANN
  • Updated: March 29, 2011 - 12:47 PM

Manure was allowed to taint rivers and wetlands. One feedlot was operating without a permit. An ethanol plant and a biofuel plant were allowing too much pollution to escape into the air.

These are some of the violations tagged by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency in October, November and December of 2010.

I looked at the agency's fourth-quarter enforcement actions for air, water, toxic waste and other violations.

The agency issued orders against 47 businesses and individuals in 34 counties and assessed $355,099 in penalties. This is down significantly from the previous quarter, when there were 64 orders totaling $710,274 in penalties.

Following are the 10 violators with the highest fines. Most agreed to the agency's orders. Three businesses -- Superior Industries LLC, Sprau Cattle Co. and Cirrus Design Corp. -- were issued unilateral orders because the fines were $10,000 or less. All 10 businesses have paid their fines in full or have complied with a payment schedule. Heron Lake BioEnergy was allowed to use $12,000 of its fine to conduct an environmental study.

1Heron Lake BioEnergy LLC, Heron Lake, fined $66,000 for water and air quality violations.

The ethanol plant repeatedly exceeded air emission and wastewater discharge limits, failed to properly monitor discharges and emissions and used chemical additives in wastewater.

2Koda Energy LLC, Shakopee, fined $55,000 for air quality violations.

Koda exceeded permitted limits for sulfur dioxide and hydrogen chloride emissions from its biomass boiler.

3American Crystal Sugar Co., East Grand Forks, fined $50,000 for water quality violations.

Industrial byproducts entered Grand Marais Creek after being applied too heavily to fields. The company also used a non-certified laboratory for testing and failed to adequately control vegetation in a treatment pond.

4DHS Farms Inc., Menahga, fined $30,000 for feedlot violations.

Two inspections nearly a year apart found that owners David Sabin and Marci Burkel housed more than 1,700 cattle on their feedlot even though their permit allowed just 300. They also allowed manure-contaminated runoff to discharge into area waters.

5Noah's Ark Processors LLC, Dawson, fined $20,000 for water quality and storm water violations.

The meat processing plant allowed blood-contaminated water, untreated manure and animal-hide salting leachate to contaminate the ground. Firm didn't have proper permits.

6Superior Industries LLC, Morris, fined $10,000 for air quality violations.

The company exceeded air emission limits while applying a surface coating to metal parts. Firm also failed to maintain an emission equipment inventory and submit reports. Regulators later forgave $2,488 of the fine.

7Wallace Bustad, doing business as Bustad Rolloff & Excavation, Austin, fined $10,000 for solid waste violations.

Bustad was operating a transfer station and storing solid waste directly on the ground without state permits.

8Dave and Angie Sprau, dba Sprau Cattle Co., Pequot Lakes, fined $10,000 for feedlot violations.

The business operated a cattle feedlot without a permit. The feedlot sent manure and manure-contaminated runoff into wetlands and a ditch.

9Cirrus Design Corp., Duluth, fined $8,355 for hazardous waste violations.

Cirrus failed to properly store hazardous waste, properly train employees on hazardous waste issues and didn't submit certain documents to the state. Regulators later forgave $4,830 of the fine.

10Jim Paskewitz Feedlot Co., Vesta, fined $7,500 for feedlot violations.

The beef cattle feedlot discharged manure and manure-contaminated runoff into the Redwood River. The company also failed to maintain manure-management records.

Hard Data digs into public records and puts a spotlight on rule breakers in the Twin Cities and Minnesota. Contact me at jfriedmann@startrib une.com.
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