Central Bi-Products fined $7,000
The Iowa Department of Natural Resources filed an administrative consent order requiring Farmers Union Industries, LLC, parent company of Central Bi-Products in Estherville, to pay $7,000 for environmental violations. Iowa Code provides for civil penalties of up to $5,000 per day of violation and more serious criminal sanctions. The DNR determined the most effective means of addressing the violations is the order, dated March 29 and signed by the DNR April 1.
The DNR determined that the company received $1,000 in economic benefit from the discharge of pollutants into the waterway. The DNR opted to handle the matter administratively and issued $3,000 for the gravity of the pollution and the non-compliance with water quality violations.
The DNR assessed $3,000 for Central Bi-Products’ culpability, saying, “Meat rendering is a highly regulated activity and failure to properly contain the discharged wastewater shows that the proper standard of care was not achieved.”
Farmers Union Industries and Central Bi-Products “neither admits nor denies theconclusions of law and enters into this agreement solely for the purpose of settlement,” the consent order states.
Central Bi-Products rendering plant south of Estherville is located on a fresh water spring that discharges to a neighbor’s private property through a tile line. The neighbor, Joe Grieg, uses the water from the spring for livestock watering and drinking water for the residence.
The DNR received complaints on June 20, August 6, September 3, 13, and 24, 2018 that water from the farm pond on the Grieg property was contaminated with a white, greasy substance.
June 22, Aimee Devereaux contacted Tom Beseman, then plant supervisor, and Devereaux reported to the DNR that Central Bi-Products would shut down operations in order toe cased the discharge, dig up the spring-fed tile line that contains the contaminant, and re-route the tile line back into the plant.
June 26, Jennifer Christian, DNR Environmental Specialist, investigated the site. Steve Simonson, plant manager, said he personally cleaned out the basement of the plant and pumped out the wastewater collected there. The plant had an excavation planned for the following day to determine where the contaminant was entering the tile line. When Simonson and Christian proceeded to the farm pond on Grieg’s property, Christian observed that the rock near the tile line outlet was stained with white film and water inside the wet well had white film on top and chunks of white floating debris.
Christian returned June 27 to observe the excavation process and noted a small portion of the line was replaced and the line cleaned out. However, there was no evidence that this line was causing the discharge. Further excavation to 12 feet on Central Bi-Products property did not locate the line. Excavation continued on the Grieg property and the line was found and a camera sent into the hole.
July 16, Tom Roos, Environmental Specialist Senior, joined Christian in a meeting with Toby Polkinghorne. This time a spill was located in the area where dead animals are offloaded. A thick, black tar-like substance flowed out of the receiving bay and into the gravel parking lot. The flow continued into a concrete storm water gutter that eventually flows into the neighbor’s pasture. The DNR asked Central Bi-Products to clean the spill and properly dispose of the black substance. The lab sample of the substance showed E-coli and ammonia among other substances.
August 7, after another complaint, Christian and Roos met with Beseman, Polkinghorne, and Sheldon Andrews, recently retired plant manager who returned as a consultant. Andrews walked DNR staff through the plant and the basement had filled with wastewater that had a greasy, white film. The black, tarry substance had been cleaned up, but it was stored in totes located in the parking lot.
The Emmet County Sheriff has also cited Central Bi-Products for unlawfully transporting animal parts without a cover.
Oct. 1, 2018, the DNR sent a Notice of Violation to Central Bi-Products for all of the complained violations.
Dan Hildebrandt, CEO of Farmers Union Industries, by signing the order, waived the company’s right to appeal.