A Keokuk, Iowa, wet corn-milling plant has agreed to pay a $4.1-million penalty for violations of the federal Clean Water Act that sent industrial waste directly into the Mississippi River and Soap Creek, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reported on Tuesday.
The civil penalty is part of a consent decree entered into by the EPA, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Iowa and the Keokuk company, Roquette America Inc., in a legal action in the U.S. District Court in Southern District of Iowa.
The consent decree negotiated by the parties follows a complaint by the federal government that alleged that Roquette America Inc. violated its discharge permit limits on more than 1,323 occasions; had unauthorized discharges of pollutants on more than 85 occasions; at least 15 times discharged industrial waste into the Mississippi River without adequate treatment; failed to comply with the operations and maintenance section of its discharge permit; failed to comply with its stormwater pollution prevention plan; and failed to report violations of its permit.
According to the consent decree, Roquette does not admit liability for matters spelled out in the complaint, and states that it “has worked in a cooperative and timely manner” with the federal government to resolve the issues.
The company must pay the $4.1 million civil penalty within 30 days of the filing of the consent decree with the court, according to the decree.
In addition, the EPA pointed out on Tuesday that the company will complete infrastructure improvements at the plant and establish better monitoring and auditing programs that could cost the company more than $17 million.
“The magnitude of these violations warrants the magnitude of the penalty,” Karl Brooks, administrator of EPA’s Region 7 in Lenexa, Kan., said on Tuesday. “The Mississippi River is a vital waterway, used by millions of Americans for commerce, recreation and drinking water. It is imperative that industrial facilities abide by their discharge permits to protect our valuable water resources.”
The EPA said that Roquette was aware as early as 2008 that its wastewater treatment plant could not handle all that its discharge permit and the federal Clean Water Act required of it.
The court consent decree is posted at http://www.justice.gov/enrd/ConsentDecrees/ENV_ENFORCEMENT-2297963-v1-ROQUETTE_AMERICA_-_LODGED_CONSENT_DECREE. PDFEPA