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Southern Minnesota Beet Sugar Cooperative Clean Water Act Settlement

(Chicago, IL – May 12, 2016) – U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Minnesota Pollution Control Agency today announced a $6 million agreement with the Southern Minnesota Beet Sugar Cooperative to resolve Clean Water Act violations at its processing facility near Renville, Minn. The company manufactures refined sugar, liquid sugar and other products from sugar beets. The Renville facility produces over 475,000 tons of sugar, 100,000 tons of dried and pelleted pulp and 10,000 tons of molasses from some 3 million tons of sugar beets. 

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Overview of Company

Southern Minnesota Beet Sugar Cooperative (SMB) is a large farming cooperative and processing facility that manufactures refined sugar, liquid sugar and other products from sugar beets.  The processing facility is located near Renville, Minnesota.

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The defendant violated Sections 301 and 402 of the Clean Water Act when it failed to comply with its permit, issued by the State of Minnesota.  SMB discharged untreated wastewater from its processing facility, causing a fish kill in a nearby creek.

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Injunctive Relief

Under the terms of the consent decree, SMB will model the volume of its wastewater ponds, carry out contingency plans to address forecasted permit exceedances, and audit its wastewater piping systems.  In addition, SMB will remove drain lines from spray irrigation fields, use automatic cut-off values to prevent further discharges and maintain monitoring records.

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Health and Environmental Effects

The settlement resolves unauthorized discharges associated with processing of sugar beets, and will help prevent future fish kills in nearby creeks.

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Civil Penalty

SMB will pay a $1 million dollar civil penalty. As a co-plaintiff, the State of Minnesota will receive half of the civil penalty.

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State Role

The State of Minnesota, by and through the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, is a co-plaintiff.

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Comment Period

The proposed settlement, lodged in the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota, is subject to a 30-day public comment period and final court approval.  Information on how to comment on the consent decree is available on the Department of Justice website.

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For more information, contact:

Melissa K. Raack 
Water Enforcement Division
U. S. Environmental Protection Agency
1200 Pennsylvania Ave, NW (MC 2243A)
Washington, DC  20460 
(202) 564-7039

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