Green Plains Otter Tail exceeds wastewater/stormwater pollutant limits, failed to complete inspections, among other violations
According to a Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) enforcement investigation, Green Plains Otter Tail, LLC, violated its combined wastewater and stormwater permit numerous times over the last three years at its ethanol production facility near Fergus Falls, Minn.
Violations that occurred from 2018-2021 included:
- Chlorine discharges nearly three times the permit limit.
- Arsenic discharges nearly twice the permit limit.
- Incomplete wastewater monitoring.
- Failure to complete monthly stormwater site inspections and failure to ensure that by-product material, such as dried distiller grains, were enclosed to prevent contact with stormwater.
- Failure to immediately report an unauthorized discharge of whole stillage on its grounds.
- Using chemical additives at rates higher than allowed by its permit, and failing to keep adequate records.
In addition to paying a $14,812 civil penalty to the MPCA, the company has completed a series of corrective actions, including submitting:
- Plans to ensure stormwater inspections occur weekly, and describe steps to ensure effluent discharges will be compliant with permit limits.
- Photographic proof that their by-product containment building has been repaired to eliminate exposure to stormwater.
- Plans to ensure immediate reporting of any future spills or discharges, and actions the company will take to ensure proper application of chemical additives only at approved rates.
MPCA rules and regulations are designed to protect human health and the environment by limiting pollution emissions and discharges from facilities. When companies do not fully comply with regulatory requirements, the resulting pollution can be harmful to people and the environment.
When calculating penalties, the MPCA takes into account how seriously the violations affected or could have affected the environment, and whether they were first-time or repeat violations. The agency also attempts to recover the economic benefit the company gained by failing to comply with environmental laws in a timely manner.
About the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA)
The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency is a state agency committed to ensuring that every Minnesotan has healthy air, sustainable lands, clean water, and a better climate.