Civil penalty entered against pharmaceutical company

Bryan Cohen Jul. 14, 2011, 5:27pm


DES MOINES, Iowa (Legal Newsline) - Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller announced on Wednesday that a Sioux County judge has assessed a $20,000 civil penalty against a pharmaceutical company for alleged wastewater violations.

Sioux Pharm allegedly violated Iowa's wastewater laws by land-applying wastewater in areas not approved for land application, land-applying wastewater within 300 feet of a continuous flowing stream that may provide direct connection to the groundwater, failing to maintain records and submit monthly operation reports, failing to maintain adequate freeboard in the lagoon to prevent overflows, and allowing wastewater to pond during land application.

The consent decree, filed Monday in Sioux County district court by Sioux County District Judge Edward A. Jacobson, orders the company to permanently close the wastewater storage lagoon by removing the contents and leveling the site by July 15. Sioux Pharm has already closed the lagoon and agreed to no longer land-apply its wastewater.

Miller filed an environmental lawsuit against Sioux Pharm on March 9, 2009, alleging that the company illegally discharged pharmaceutical wastewater into groundwater and surface of the state, failed to properly land-apply wastewater, repeatedly failed to maintain adequate "freeboard" at its wastewater storage lagoon, and failed to comply with reporting and monitoring requirements for its wastewater lagoon.

Sioux Pharm operates a pharmaceutical plant in Sioux Center. The wastewater produced is primarily a digested beef protein that has been licensed by the Iowa Department of Agriculture as a soil conditioner. It has been stored in a single-cell storage lagoon in rural Sioux County that has a capacity of 860,000 galloons of wastewater. Approximately 12,000 gallons of wastewater is hauled by tanker truck from the plant to the lagoon per day. The wastewater is then land applied to the surrounding crop fields.

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