Polluters fined, must fix problems

  • Updated: June 19, 2011 - 8:08 AM

One meat-processing plant sent 3.9 million gallons of wastewater into a nearby creek. A feedlot allowed manure-contaminated runoff to pollute wetlands. A business that transfers material between trucks and rail cars spilled 30,000 gallons of animal tallow.

These are some of the violations that prompted enforcement action by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency in the first three months of 2011.

The agency issued orders against 43 businesses and individuals across 31 counties. Civil penalties totalled $420,946.

Following are the eight violators that were fined more than $10,000. All have agreed to remediate past pollution when possible and to make changes to their operations.

1 Progressive Rail Inc., Lakeville, fined $75,000 for water quality violations

Progressive Rail Inc., which handles about 1 million gallons of oil and hazardous material per month, failed to notify the agency promptly about a 2005 spill of 30,000 gallons of animal tallow and a 2008 release of ferric chloride near a storm sewer inlet.

2 Southern Minnesota Beet Sugar Cooperative, Renville, fined $50,400 for air quality and storage tank violations

The cooperative's processing plant recorded 32 violations of air quality standards for hydrogen sulfide between 2007 and 2009, and exceeded emission limits for nitrous oxide.  Storage tank inspections were late or missing, tanks and a containment structure were in disrepair and leaks and spills of beet juice went unreported.

3 PM Beef Holdings LLC, Windom, fined $49,000 for water quality and hazardous waste violations

The meat-processing plant continued to discharge waste into storage lagoons despite heavy rains, causing them to overflow and spill 3.9 million gallons of rain and wastewater to Perkins Creek. Untreated wastewater also was discharged in 2008 and 2009 because storage capacity was insufficient and liquid-manure storage areas were not properly maintained. The plant improperly stored used batteries and oil.

4 Multek Flexible Circuits, Inc., Northfield, fined $34,940 for air quality violations

Starting in 2003, Multek installed new emission-control equipment at its plant without obtaining permit amendments. Multek failed to properly test the emission-control equipment and failed to submit data to the state promptly.

5 Mid State Recycling Services, Inc., James C. Kopachek, Pine River, fined $30,000 for solid waste, hazardous waste and storm water violations

The firm dumped used oil, diesel fuel and gasoline and failed to take measures to minimize or abate water pollution. It also stored 20,000 tires without having a permit and failed to properly store fluorescent tubes.

6 Bill Tulenchik, Pequot Lakes, fined $20,000 for feedlot violations

Tulenchik expanded his feedlots in 2008 without obtaining permits. Two feedlots had at least 900 cattle, three times the number allowed without a state permit. One feedlot was lacking a federal permit required for feedlots with at least 1,000 head of cattle. Inspectors also found that manure and manure-contaminated runoff was going into wetlands from two feedlots.

7 The city of Winnebago, fined $12,700 for water quality violations

The city discharged more wastewater from its treatment plant than allowed by its permit. The city also allowed a business to send industrial pollutants into the plant. Winnebago's wastewater, which is piped into the Blue Earth River, didn't meet minimum oxygen levels.

8 Oronoco Estates MHC, LLC, Oronoco, fined $11,435 for wastewater and solid waste violations

The mobile home park burned garbage containing plastics and chemically treated material. It failed to monitor wastewater levels in ponds and monitor for bacteria and nitrogen in wastewater sprayed on land.

Hard Data digs into public records and puts a spotlight on rule breakers in Minnesota. Contact me at jfriedmann@startribune.com.

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