Lenexa, Kan. (Legal Newsline) - The Environmental Protection Agency announced Tuesday Roquette America, Inc. has agreed to pay a $4.1 million civil penalty that will settle alleged violations of the Clean Water Act and its National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit.
Roquette was aware of its wastewater treatment plant was marginally adequate as early as 2008, the EPA says. Its plant could not handle spills or surges in loading, according to the EPA.
Roquette allowed the industrial waste discharge directly into the Mississippi River and Soap Creek instead of constructing additional containment structures for the surges, or routing spills, the EPA said.
Roquette has received three administrative orders and eight notices of violation from the Iowa Department of Natural Resources since 2000 but the company continued to overload its wastewater treatment plant and failed to address the deficiencies, according to the EPA.
The NPDES permit was violated at least 1,174 times, the EPA said. On at least 30 occasions there was illegal discharge from storm drains which resulted in at least 250,000 gallons of industrial waste release into the Mississippi and Soap Creek, the EPA said. Roquette also allegedly discharged partially treated industrial waste from its wastewater treatment plant and steam condensation through an unpermitted outfall.
"The magnitude of these violations warrants the magnitude of the penalty," EPA Region 7 Administrator Karl Brooks said. "The Mississippi River is a vital waterway, used by millions of Americans for commerce, recreation, and drinking water. It is imperative that industrial facilities abide by their discharge permits to protect our valuable water resources."
To further protect the surrounding waters, Roquette will complete other requirements valued at more than $17 million, such as the completion of a sewer survey to identify possible discharge locations, the implementation of sewer modifications, the construction of upgrades to the wastewater treatment plant, and the performance of enhanced effluent monitoring.
According to the EPA, Roquette will also begin with third-party audits of its compliance.
"This settlement holds Roquette accountable for its multiple violations of the nation's Clean Water Act and requires sewer improvements, wastewater treatment upgrades, enhanced monitoring and independent compliance audits that will benefit public health and the environment for the people of Iowa for years to come," said Ignacia S. Moreno , Assistant Attorney General of the Justice Department's Environment and Natural Resources Division.