Company to Pay Millions for Clean Water Act Violations

The EPA and the Department of Justice announced that Roquette America, Inc. will pay a $4.1 million civil penalty for violations of the Clean Water Act and its National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit at its grain processing facility in Keokuk, Iowa.

Since 2008, Roquette was aware that its waste water treatment plant was only marginally adequate and that it could not handle spills or surges in loading. Instead of constructing additional containment structures for waste water surges, or routing spills to the waste water treatment plant, Roquette allowed the industrial waste to be discharged directly into the Mississippi River and Soap Creek.

“The magnitude of these violations warrants the magnitude of the penalty,” said EPA Region 7 Administrator Karl Brooks. “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.”

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources has issued three administrative orders and eight notices of violation to Roquette since 2000. Despite these orders and notices, Roquette continued to overload its waste water treatment plant and failed to address the deficiencies at other portions of its facility, resulting in permit violations and illegal discharges of untreated industrial waste.

The Keokuk facility violated its NPDES permit at least 1,174 times, and illegally discharged at least 250,000 gallons of industrial waste being released into the Mississippi River and Soap Creek. In addition to these permit violations and illegal discharges, Roquette discharged partially treated industrial waste from its waste water treatment plant, and discharged steam condensate into Soap Creek through an unpermitted outfall.

In addition to paying the penalty, Roquette will complete other requirements valued at more than $17 million to further protect the Mississippi River and Soap Creek. The company will be required to complete a sewer survey to identify possible discharge locations, implement sewer modifications, construct upgrades to the wastewater treatment plant, and perform enhanced effluent monitoring.

Roquette will also be required to obtain annual third party audits of its compliance with the operations and maintenance program, the Storm Water Pollution Prevention Program, the company’s NPDES permits, and the compliance requirements set out in the consent decree. To learn more about EPA’s civil enforcement of the Clean Water Act, please click here.

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