Iowa AG's suit results in $30K penalty

By Bryan Cohen | Nov 8, 2011


OTTUMWA, Iowa (Legal Newsline) - Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller announced on Tuesday that a Blairsburg company will pay a $30,000 penalty for allegedly discharging wastewater illegally.

Chamness Technology Inc. allegedly discharged wastewater from stormwater retention basins last year at its Eddyville solid waste composting facility. District Count Judge Myron L. Gookin, the judge who ordered the penalty, also enjoined the company from committing further violations. The order resolves a lawsuit Miller filed on Monday.

Chamness Technology Inc. owns and operates a solid waste composting facility near Eddyville. The facility includes a 16-acre asphalt pad for active composting and processing of materials, including food processing byproducts, outdated biodegradable agricultural products, pre- and post-consumer food scraps, non-recyclable paper and cardboard, industrial bio-solids and biotechnology by-products, manure, and food processing waste. In addition, the facility includes three stormwater retention basins with a total capacity of 8.1 million gallons. Chamness' permit for solid waste composting prohibits the discharge of water from the retention basins.

In 2008, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources issued an administrative order against Chamness, in part because of allegedly illegal discharges from its retention basins. In 2010, the DNR issued a second administrative order against Chamness, again in part because of allegedly illegal discharges from the retention basins.

Both orders required Chamness to prevent further discharges from the retention basins. The 2010 order required Chamness to maintain at least two feet of freeboard, representing the difference in elevation between the liquid level and the basin overflow level, at all times in each of the retention basins. The order also required that Chamness enter into an agreement with a wastewater treatment facility to accept large volumes of wastewater in the event that the basins became full and land application was not possible.

In June and July 2010, additional discharges from the retention basins allegedly occurred. They are the subject of the lawsuit filed by Miller.

Chamness admitted the discharges from the retention basins but stated that the basin overflows were unintentional and occurred in connection with significant unanticipated rainfall events. Chamness also stated that it now co-owns 422 additional acres of land in Monroe and Wapello Counties that are available for the land application of water from the retention basins.

The consent decree approved Tuesday resolves all violations alleged in the petition but expressly does not resolve the alleged release of retention pond wastewater from an irrigation hose at the facility occurring on or about November 1, 2010. The Iowa DNR has referred that matter to the United States Environmental Protection Agency.

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