An egg producer has been fined by the state for releasing excessive fecal bacteria and other contaminants in thousands of gallons of wastewater discharged every day at the company’s production facility just south of the Twin Cities.
M.G. Waldbaum Co., a subsidiary of Minnetonka-based Michael Foods, has agreed to pay the state $32,900 for the alleged tainted wastewater releases that were occurring at its egg-washing facility in Le Sueur, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) announced last week.
“The facility’s violations endangered nearby groundwater and lakes and streams,” the MPCA said in a statement revealing the release of fecal coliform bacteria, nitrates and other contaminants.
The bacteria and nitrates “can be a health hazard if they end up in drinking water,” the agency’s statement said.
MPCA official Mike Rafferty said Monday, “There are no known illnesses or injuries associated with this enforcement action.”
Waldbaum and the MPCA entered into what is called a stipulation agreement that allows the egg producer to avoid admitting guilt to what the agency alleged.
The agreement noted that the discharge limit for fecal coliform was 10 times higher than allowed in October 2014 and more than 12 times higher in May 2016. Other contaminants were released at twice the permitted rate in May 2016, the agreement documented.
The facility washes freshly laid eggs with roughly 6,000 gallons of wastewater daily, which is then applied to farmland through a spray irrigation system.
Violations also involved shortcomings in monitoring, related procedures, reporting and record-keeping, the agency alleged.
In response to the enforcement, Waldbaum submitted the required paperwork, satisfied certification requirements, upgraded its procedures and assured the MPCA that it will meet environmental requirements in the future.
Messages were left with M.G. Waldbaum and Michael Foods vice president and general counsel Carolyn V. Wolski seeking reaction to the fine, the seventh largest levied by the MPCA so far this year.
Wolski responded Monday afternoon and declined to comment.