Weather Forecast


IFS, Bongards' among businesses fined by MPCA

Two area firms have been penalized for Minnesota Pollution Control Agency environmental violations.

A total of 77 enforcement cases statewide totalled $501,842 in penalties during the last round of MPCA actions. The agency releases its enforcement report on a quarterly schedule.

The cases occurred at facilities in 36 counties throughout Minnesota. Among the facilties were Bongards' Creameries, Perham, and Industrial Finishing Services, with facilities in Perham, New York Mills and Deer Creek.

A total of $28,000 in penalties were levied against Industrial Finishing Services, for water quality and hazardous waste violations at New York Mills. The IFS facilities in Perham and Deer Creek were also inspected, but the infractions were minimal.

In Perham, Bongards' Creameries Inc., was fined $7,268 for water quality violations.

In both cases, the MPCA actions stem from inspections and incidents dating back a year or more.

IFS penalized for industrial wastewater handling issues

Industrial Finishing Services, with sites in Perham, Deer Creek and New York Mills, agreed to pay a $28,000 civil penalty and has completed actions requested by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency to settle alleged violations of state regulations, including those covering industrial wastewater disposal and hazardous waste storage and record keeping.

Among other things, inspection reports from 2007 allege the company failed to properly dispose of industrial wastewater, failed to inspect stored wastes, failed to consistently label hazardous waste and used oil, and failed to store wastes according to state rules. Inspectors also alleged problems with record keeping, emergency prepared- ness and employee training.

The alleged violations were observed during MPCA inspections at sites operated by the IFS company in Deer Creek, Perham and New York Mills during the second half of 2007.

Taken into consideration during this enforcement action was the company's past history of similar alleged violations identified during inspections dating back to 2001, the MPCA said.

There were about 20 items listed for corrective action following the inspections, and IFS has met all the requirements--within the MPCA's specified 30 day deadline.

Most of the violations identified in the 18 page stipulation agreement with the MPCA involved the New York Mills IFS location. However, there was a wastewater discharge issue in Deer Creek.

The MPCA also ordered that police, fire and emergency response departments be familiarized with the storage location of wastes in the event of an emergency. Further, the MPCA requested an emergency plan be implemented, including evacuation routes and other procedures.

Perham IFS plant faced fewer inspection issues than Mills facility

There were four inspection matters relating to the Perham plant--including a requirement that employees be trained and familiar with proper waste handling and emergency procedures. The Perham plant must also ensure weekly inspection schedules and properly handle and dispose of used oil.

When calculating penalties, the MPCA takes into account how seriously the violation affected the environment, whether it is a first time or repeat violation, and how promptly the violation was reported to appropriate authorities. It also attempts to recover the calculated economic benefit gained by failure to comply with environmental laws in a timely manner.

Bongards' inspection prompts MPCA enforcement

In the Bongards' case, MPCA responded to citizen complaints about odor, apparently emanating from the Bongard' wastewater pond. The pond is operated as a separate facility from the city's wastewater treatment, and functions under a permit directly with the MPCA, according to Justin Barrick, a pollution control specialist based in Detroit Lakes.

The MPCA inspection of Bongards' dates to June of 2008.

Bongards' was not cited for odor-related violations, said Barrick, but in the course of the inspection, the MPCA determined that there were eight compliance issues that required corrective action.

These included:

---Various equipment needed calibration, and staff was to be trained and designated as responsible for the equipment and procedures.

---There were several groundwater and aeration reports that were not submitted in a timely fashion. Bongards' also in some cases exceeded flow rates for spray irrigation of the effluent, according to Barrick.

---Stormwater reports were not submitted. The MPCA required that staff be designated for stormwater compliance, and that Bongards' submit a detailed report on what steps will be taken to ensure annual reports.

Because Bongards' achieved all the MPCA directives, a total of $1,440 of the $7,268 fine was forgiven, noted Barrick.

"We took all the action and steps necessary to meet the documentation and submittal requirements necessary," said Chris Anderson, safety and wastewater treatment manager for Bongards'.

MPCA levied 77 fines statewide last quarter

The fines for the 77 enforcement actions recorded in the second quarter of 2009 ranged from $750 up to a $35,000 penalty, which was for asbestos violations in Garden City.