Jan 15, 2007

Egg Processor to Pay $1 Million for Dumping in Nebraska Waters

M.G. Waldbaum Company, a subsidiary of Minnesota-based Michael Foods Inc., has been charged a $1 million fine for the discharge and dumping of poultry waste into Nebraska waters. The Clean Water Act violations involve Waldbaum's egg processing facility and seven associated poultry farms near the city of Wakefield, Neb.

The settlement is a joint federal-state effort, and the million dollar penalty will be divided equally between the state and the federal government.

The company is alleged to have overloaded the wastewater treatment lagoons at the publicly owned treatment works in the city of Wakefield.

Charges also include allowing pollutants from a large pile of poultry waste to enter Logan Creek without a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System, NPDES, permit at its Husker Pride poultry concentrated animal feeding operation, CAFO, one of the seven Waldbaum poultry farms.

The company also allegedly dumped process sludge waste from its egg processing facility at two of its other poultry farms rather than spreading it on the ground in accordance with state standards.

As part of the settlement, Waldbaum has agreed to comply with the schedule in its current NPDES permit for construction of a wastewater treatment plant to treat the effluent from its egg processing facility. Construction of the new plant is scheduled for completion in 2009 at an estimated cost of $16 million.

Waldbaum also has agreed to apply for a NPDES permit for its Husker Pride poultry farm CAFO and to develop and implement manure management plans at its other six poultry farms.

The EPA estimates that actions under this agreement will result in annual reductions of 60 pounds of phosphorus, 18,250 pounds of biochemical oxygen demand, 61,000 pounds of total suspended solids, and 41,600 pounds of ammonia, a component of poultry manure.

Excessive amounts of ammonia in wastewater can be harmful to fish and other aquatic organisms. Excessive amounts of phosphorus and suspended solids harm waterways by depleting the dissolved oxygen needed by aquatic life.

Under the agreement, the City of Wakefield will pay a civil penalty of $20,000, comply with the Clean Water Act and its NPDES permit, prohibit treatment of wastewater from Waldbaum, and conduct increased influent and effluent monitoring and reporting.