LENEXA, KS, Nov. 13, 2012 -- Roquette America Inc. has agreed to pay a $4,100,000 civil penalty to settle alleged violations of the Clean Water Act and its National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit at its grain processing facility in Keokuk, Iowa, the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Justice announced today.
As early as 2008, Roquette was aware that its wastewater treatment plant was marginally adequate and that it could not handle spills or surges in loading. Instead of constructing additional containment structures for wastewater surges, or routing spills to the wastewater treatment plant, Roquette allowed the industrial waste to be discharged directly into the Mississippi River and Soap Creek.
“The magnitude of these violations warrants the magnitude of the penalty,” said EPA Region 7 Administrator Karl Brooks. “The Mississippi River is a vital waterway, used by millions of Americans for commerce, recreation, and drinking water. It is imperative that industrial facilities abide by their discharge permits to protect our valuable water resources.”
The Iowa Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) has issued three Administrative Orders and eight Notices of Violation to Roquette since 2000. Despite these orders and notices, Roquette continued to overload its wastewater treatment plant and failed to address the deficiencies at other portions of its facility, resulting in permit violations and illegal discharges of untreated industrial waste. At the request of IDNR, EPA initiated its review of the violations.
The Keokuk facility violated its NPDES permit at least 1,174 times, and on at least 30 occasions illegally discharged via storm drains resulting in at least 250,000 gallons of industrial waste being released into the Mississippi River and Soap Creek. In addition to these permit violations and illegal discharges, Roquette discharged partially treated industrial waste from its wastewater treatment plant, and discharged steam condensate into Soap Creek through an unpermitted outfall.
“Roquette’s actions resulted in over a thousand permit violations and allowed the discharge of untreated industrial waste into the Mississippi River and another Iowa waterway even after it was informed on numerous occasions it was violating its state permit and federal law,” said Ignacia S. Moreno, Assistant Attorney General of the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division. “This settlement holds Roquette accountable for its multiple violations of the nation’s Clean Water Act and requires sewer improvements, wastewater treatment upgrades, enhanced monitoring and independent compliance audits that will benefit public health and the environment for the people of Iowa for years to come.”
In addition to paying the penalty, Roquette will complete other requirements valued at more than $17 million to further protect the Mississippi River and Soap Creek. Among these requirements are the completion of a sewer survey to identify possible discharge locations, the implementation of sewer modifications, the construction of upgrades to the wastewater treatment plant, and the performance of enhanced effluent monitoring. In addition, Roquette will obtain annual third-party audits of its compliance with its operations and maintenance program, Storm Water Pollution Prevention Program, the company’s NPDES permits, and the compliance requirements set out in the consent decree.
The consent decree is subject to a 30-day public comment period and approval by the federal court. Once it is published in the Federal Register, a copy of the consent decree will be available on the Justice Department website at www.usdoj.gov/enrd/Consent_Decrees.html.