Grassland Dairy fined over wastewater discharges
Aug 07 2014 Comments 0
Grassland Dairy Products Inc has been ordered to pay $300,000 (£178,162) in fines after it was found to be discharging water pollutants that exceeded its Wisconsin Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (WPDES) permit. The fine was announced by Attorney General J.B Van Hollen on Tuesday (August 5th).
As one of the largest butter producers in the world, Grasslands produces large quantities of dairy products everyday. The business is subject to the conditions outlined in its WPDES permit, which states a maximum daily biochemical oxygen demand (BOD). The maximum level allowed for Grasslands is 82.6 pounds a day.
As well as putting a maximum level in place, the WPDES permit also requires the company to measure the BOD levels everyday and report them. Any violations of the levels have to be reported to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR).
BOD is the amount of oxygen that is used throughout the decomposition of the organic material found within discharged wastewater. Oxygen that is dissolved in water is important to aquatic life and so if organic material is using too much oxygen, it can be damaging to the environment. The BOD limits are set by the DNR based on the need of individual bodies of water.
By exceeding a BOD limit, a company can cause severe harm to aquatic environments and life. Grasslands BOD limit is in reference to the Black River, which is around two miles away from the company's facilities. The US Environmental Protection Agency has listed the Black River as impaired, as it has low levels of dissolved oxygen due to the dairy's high BOD.
Grassland was found to have violated its WPDES permit a total of 119 times between 2006 and 2013 due to increased BOD levels. According to the complaint against the company, it exceeded the levels by more than 150 per cent on 38 consecutive days. The issue was made worse when Grassland spent $70 million on an expansion to its dairy without addressing the effect this would have on its wastewater discharges.
The company also failed to report the days where its BOD was higher than stated in the permit, however, it only reported three instances within the 24 hour time frame when notification is required as per the permit.
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