Wisconsin AG announces $40,000 judgment against cheese-making facility

By Bryan Cohen | Mar 11, 2013

MADISON, Wis. (Legal Newsline) - Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen announced a $40,000 judgment last week against an Illinois-based cheese-making company to resolve allegations that it violated a pollution permit at a Wisconsin facility.

Saputo Cheese USA Inc., which is based in Lincolnshire, Ill., allegedly violated the Wisconsin Pollution Discharge Elimination System permit at its Lena cheese-making facility Nov. 17-18 in 2009. The alleged violation occurred when lift station pumps at the facility failed and caused untreated water to overflow and bypass Saputo Cheese's wastewater treatment plant. The untreated water discharged into a tributary of the Little River, which flows into the Oconto River.

The alleged unscheduled bypass of untreated water represents a violation of Saputo Cheese's WPDES permit.

In addition, Saputo Cheese submitted daily monitoring reports that indicated excessive biochemical oxygen demand and total suspended solids permit effluent limits in November 2009, January 2010, February 2010, February 2011 and April 2011. Saputo Cheese also allegedly violated its WPDES permit during January 2010 when it failed to report violations of biochemical oxygen demand effluent limitations by telephone within 24 hours or by written report within five days after becoming aware of a violation.

Saputo Cheese cooperated with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources on this matter to ensure future WPDES permit compliance. Saputo Cheese instituted new employee training regarding spill notification and environmental awareness, developed improved tracking for the operation of its wastewater treatment plant, and upgraded its facility.

Adding organic material can lead to short-term and long-term changes to a stream. In the short term, organic material can cause an acute drop in dissolved oxygen, in addition to fish and invertebrate mortality. In the long term, the discharges can alter habitats and degrade water quality.

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