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Roquette America, Inc. Settlement

(Lenexa, Kan., Nov. 13, 2012) - Roquette America, Inc. has agreed to pay a $4,100,000 civil penalty to settle alleged violations of the Clean Water Act and its National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit at its grain processing facility in Keokuk, Iowa, the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Justice announced today.

Overview of Company

Roquette America, Inc. is the regional operating subsidiary of Roquette Freres, a multinational corporation, which is headquartered in Lestrem, France. Roquette Freres, a privately held family company, employs over 6,000 people internationally with locations, including 18 factories, across Europe, the United States and Asia. Roquette Freres is a leading producer of starch products, sugar alcohols, and syrups derived from corn, wheat, potatoes, and peas. The process produces over 650 by-products including bioethanol, sugars, dietary fibers, sugar alcohol, and chemistry products. These byproducts are in turn used as ingredients in a wide range of products ranging from nutrition bars and frozen desserts to pharmaceutical and bio-chemical products. Roquette processes over 6 million tons of wheat, corn, peas, and potatoes annually.  RAI owns and operates a wet corn milling plant, which includes a wastewater treatment plant, in Keokuk, Iowa.

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This case concerns violations of Sections 301(a) and 402 of the Clean Water Act (CWA), which prohibits the discharge of pollutants to waters of the United States unless authorized by a permit. Numerous effluent violations and unauthorized bypasses violate conditions of Roquette’s permits under the National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES), a permit program under the CWA that addresses water pollution by regulating point sources that discharge pollutants into waters of the United States. In addition, unpermitted discharges resulting from spills in the production area that reach waters of the United States constitute discharges of pollutants not authorized by a NPDES permit.

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Injunctive Relief

Pursuant to the terms of the consent decree, Roquette will be required to:

  • conduct a sewer survey to identify all locations with the potential to convey unauthorized discharges to waters of the US and identify and implement necessary sewer modifications;
  • develop and implement an operations and maintenance program to reduce the occurrences of spills in the production areas;
  • modify storm water management for Roquette’s coal storage area;
  • install a nickel recovery system;
  • reduce total suspended solids discharged to Soap Creek via Outfall 005;
  • complete an upgrade of the wastewater treatment plant;
  • perform enhanced effluent monitoring for the life of the decree; and
  • third party verification of Roquette’s compliance with the operations and maintenance plan, storm water pollution prevention program, NPDES permits and consent decree requirements.

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Pollutant Impacts

Over the years, spills from Roquette’s mill that have directly discharged into the Mississippi River and discharges from its poorly operated wastewater treatment plant have turned portions of the Mississippi River into either a brick red color from the proliferation of sulfur bacteria or a golden yellow from the discharge of untreated gluten slurry.

Through implementation of the consent decree, EPA estimates that Roquette will reduce 1,195 pounds of nickel, 941,072 pounds of total suspended solids, 125,070 pounds of biological oxygen demand and 263,000 gallons of spilled material annually.

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Civil Penalty

Under the proposed consent decree, the assessed civil penalty against Roquette is $4,100,000.

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For more information, contact:

Liz Huston 
Office of Regional Counsel
U. S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region 7
11201 Renner Blvd.
Lenexa, KS 66219
(913) 551-7525

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