Bryan Cohen Nov. 7, 2012, 7:45pm

MADISON, Wis. (Legal Newsline) - Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen announced a $45,000 settlement on Wednesday with an Oconto and Manitowoc county cheese maker to resolve allegations that it failed to comply with land spreading laws.

BelGioioso Cheese Inc. allegedly engaged in Wisconsin Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit land spread violations. The company operates five cheese-making facilities in the northeastern part of Wisconsin.

BelGioioso allegedly violated individual permit terms at one of its facilities and violated general permit terms at another. The alleged violations include land spreading industrial waste too close to, and into, a drainage way, winter spreading on sites not approved for the winter months, spreading on saturated soils and runoff to a wetland, and failure to report noncompliance.

The state inspected the cheese-making facilities after receiving hotline complaints from various locations in Oconto and Manitowoc counties.

"We rely on wastewater permit holders to adhere to the state's land spreading rules and permit conditions, site specific approval conditions, and land spreading management plans so that Wisconsin's surface and groundwater resources may be protected," Van Hollen said. "The Department of Justice will continue to work with the DNR to ensure compliance with the law."

BelGioioso responded to an enforcement action by the state by taking responsibility for the violations, retaining consultants and taking action to minimize and improve its land spreading activities. Under the terms of the settlement, BelGioioso agreed to implement and create a comprehensive plan for wastewater management for all of its five facilities.

The plan will allow the company to exceed compliance and it will benefit its neighbors, particularly in Brown County, where disposal and storage options for cheese plant wastewater are limited.

BelGioioso will also construct a Department of Natural Resources-approved wastewater treatment plant meant to comply with the WPDES permit conditions and limits at its Glenmore-Denmark facility. The plant will cost an estimated $1.5 million.

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