John Morrell penalized for wastewater violations

Officials from the South Dakota Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) announced today the department has reached a settlement with John Morrell & Company, Inc., in Sioux Falls for surface water discharge permit violations.

The enforcement action issued by DENR resulted in $44,079 in penalties assessed for wastewater discharges into the Big Sioux River since 2009; in addition, the meatpacking company also has agreed to improve its wastewater treatment practices.

John Morrell's wastewater violations stemmed from three incidents at the plant. The first resulted from a disinfectant John Morrell used in its cleaning processes. The disinfectant affected the treatment process at the treatment plant, resulting in effluent violations. The second incident resulted from another upset at the treatment plant. Due to severe winter weather early in 2010, John Morrell had difficulty disposing of wastes normally hauled off the site for disposal. These wastes were instead sent to the treatment plant, disrupting the biological activity at the plant interrupting the wastewater treatment process. The final incident relates to maintenance at the treatment plant.

John Morrell responded to and corrected each of these violations. As a result of DENR's enforcement action, John Morrell will make additional proactive upgrades to ensure future violations are prevented.

"The notice of violation and compliance agreement requires John Morrell to complete a full evaluation of its wastewater and treatment systems," said DENR Secretary Steve Pirner. "John Morrell came forward with a proactive plan to address the violations, and we are pleased with the cooperation we have received from the company."

Morrell has hired a professional engineer to evaluate its wastewater treatment systems. Improvement plans and completion of the upgrades must be approved by DENR.

All environmental penalties are deposited in the state's Regulated Substance Response Fund which is used to respond to environmental emergencies.

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