AG Van Hollen: Turtle Lake company settles state lawsuit over wastewater violations for $187,500

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TURTLE LAKE – Kerry Inc. d/b/a Kerry Ingredients and Flavours, which owns and operates a soy protein production facility in Turtle Lake, Barron County, has agreed to pay $187,500 to settle state claims under Wisconsin’s water pollution laws. The judgment resolves charges that Kerry failed to properly manage its discharges of wastewater into the Village of Turtle Lake wastewater treatment plant since 2005.

Kerry processes soy flour and produces soy protein at its Turtle Lake facility. Wastewater from the production process is treated at the facility and either discharged to the Village wastewater treatment plant or land applied on area fields.

Wisconsin law requires Kerry to pretreat its wastewater so that its discharges do not contain pollutants at levels that contribute to a violation of the Village treatment plant’s permit and do not have a pH below 5.0, and requires Kerry to land apply wastewater in compliance with its permit. The complaint charges that Kerry operated in violation of state water pollution statutes since 2005 by causing violations of the Village of Turtle Lake’s treatment plant permit on at least 17 occasions and discharging wastewater with a pH below 5.0 on at least 13 occasions. The complaint also charges that Kerry operated in violation of its land application permit in 2007 and 2008 when material was landspread that contaminated liquid runoff and when material was landspread in a non-uniform fashion, and when Kerry failed to report increased landspreading volumes and the incidents of permit noncompliance.

According to the complaint, Kerry’s discharges of wastewater into the Village of Turtle Lake’s wastewater treatment plant at unacceptable pH levels and in excessive amounts, compromised Turtle Lake’s ability to remove organic pollutants and increased its operating costs. Kerry’s discharges also threatened the fish populations and aquatic vegetation in the Red Cedar River watershed into which the Village treatment plant’s effluent flows.

“Wisconsin law requires that industrial facilities manage their wastewater discharges so as to protect the public and the environment from harmful pollutants,” said Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen. “The Wisconsin Department of Justice will continue to work with the DNR to ensure that Wisconsin’s citizens and natural resources are protected through compliance with the law.”

Assistant Attorney General JoAnne F. Kloppenburg prosecuted the case. Barron County Circuit Court Judge Timothy M. Doyle approved the settlement.