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Reference News Release: M.G. Waldbaum Company Will Pay $1 Million Penalty to Resolve Clean Water Act Violations

Release Date: 01/10/2007
Contact Information: 

Environmental News
Department of Justice
Environmental Protection Agency

DOJ (202) 514-2007
EPA (800) 223-0423
TDD (202) 514-1888

WASHINGTON – M.G. Waldbaum Company, a subsidiary of Minnesota-based Michael Foods Inc., has agreed to pay a $1.05 million penalty to resolve allegations that the company violated the Clean Water Act. Today’s settlement, which is a joint federal-state effort, involves a large egg processing facility and seven associated poultry farms near the City of Wakefield, Neb. The civil penalty will be divided equally between the state and the federal government. 

The Clean Water Act violations concern allegations of overloading the wastewater treatment lagoons at the City of Wakefield’s publicly owned treatment works (POTW); discharging pollutants from a large pile of poultry waste into Logan Creek without a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System Permit (NPDES) at its Husker Pride poultry concentrated animal feeding operation (CAFO) (one of Waldbaum’s seven poultry farms); and improperly dumping process sludge waste from its egg processing facility at two of its other poultry farms rather than spreading on the ground in accordance with state standards. 

As part of this settlement, Waldbaum has committed to comply with a schedule in its current NPDES permit for construction of a wastewater treatment plant to treat the effluent from its egg processing facility. Construction of the new plant will be completed in 2009 at an estimated cost of $16 million. 

“This settlement underscores the Justice Department’s commitment to enforce vigorously the nation’s laws that protect the public and the environment from pollution,” said Sue Ellen Wooldridge, Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division. “I am particularly pleased by the federal/state partnership that brought about this outstanding resolution of serious environmental violations.”

“This settlement is a result of the EPA enforcement program's focus on significant environmental problems, such as illegal discharges into our water systems and improper management of manure from concentrated animal feeding operations,” said Granta Y. Nakayama, Assistant Administrator for the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. “This is a great example of what can be accomplished when EPA and a state work together to address noncompliance with our nation’s environmental laws.” 

“This agreement will ensure that Waldbaum makes progress toward full compliance, which must be achieved by all animal agriculture facilities to ensure that this vital Midwestern industry is protective of human health and the environment,” said EPA Region 7 Administrator John B. Askew. 

As part of the settlement, Waldbaum has also agreed to apply for a NPDES permit for its Husker Pride poultry farm CAFO and to develop and implement manure management plans at its other six poultry farms. The corrective actions in this agreement are designed to protect the integrity of the City of Wakefield POTW’s lagoon system and will protect surface water quality with better treatment of egg processing effluent and improved poultry manure management practices. EPA estimates that actions under this agreement will result in annual reductions of 60 pounds of phosphorus, 18,250 pounds of biochemical oxygen demand (BOD), 61,000 pounds of total suspended solids (TSS), and 41,600 pounds of ammonia.

Ammonia is a component of poultry manure. Excessive amounts of ammonia, in wastewater can be harmful to wildlife—particularly to fish and other aquatic organisms. Excessive amounts of phosphorous, BOD, and TSS in wastewater harms waterways by depleting dissolved oxygen needed by aquatic life to live. 

Concurrent with this settlement, a Clean Water Act settlement with the City of Wakefield, Neb. is being filed for numerous NPDES permit violations at its POTW – many due to overloading of its lagoons by effluent from Waldbaum’s egg processing facility. Under the agreement, the City of Wakefield will pay a civil penalty of $20,000, comply with the Clean Water Act and its NPDES permit, prohibit POTW treatment of wastewater from Waldbaum, and conduct increased influent and effluent monitoring and reporting.