Department of Ecology News Release - February 27, 2014

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Food processer fined for wastewater discharge violations

YAKIMA– Johnson Foods Inc. has been fined $14,000 for a history of wastewater discharges that are excessively acidic and for other water quality violations at the food processing facilities the company operates in Sunnyside.

Johnson Foods processes fruits and vegetables and sends its wastewater to be treated at the Port of Sunnyside. Wastewater with a low pH (acidic) can interfere with the industrial treatment plant operations, infrastructure and effectiveness. Acidic waste can increase odors and upset processing reactors and lagoons.

Since 2011, the Washington Department of Ecology has worked to help the company to come into compliance through an interim schedule to achieve effluent limits for pH and through a monitoring program spelled out in its waste discharge permit. Those interim limits for pH were to be achieved by March 15, 2013.

The company was cited for violations from March 2013 to November 2013, including not meeting pH limits and for not reporting its violations within 24 hours. The company also didn’t submit timely discharge monitoring reports as required to show its compliance record.

Ecology works with thousands of businesses and individuals to help them comply with state laws. Penalties are issued in cases where non-compliance continues after Ecology has provided technical assistance or warnings, or for particularly serious violations.

Johnson Foods has 30 days to pay the penalty or may file an appeal with the state’s Pollution Control Hearings Board.

Funds collected go to the state’s general fund or to dedicated pollution prevention accounts.

Ecology strives to protect, preserve and enhance Washington’s environment and promote wise management for current and future generations. When someone pollutes Washington’s air, land or waters, Ecology enforces state and federal regulations in hopes of changing behavior and deterring future violations.

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Media Contacts:

Joye Redfield-Wilder, 509-575-2610; joye.redfield-wilder@ecy.wa.gov; @ecycentral