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Corn Plus on 3 years probation

By Staff | Nov 2, 2009

Federal officials have fined and placed Corn Plus ethanol plant in Winnebago on three years probation for violating the Clean Water Act.

The company also must employ a full-time Environmental Health and Safety manager.

It was part of a sentence handed down by U.S. Judge Jeanne Graham on Tuesday.

“There are certain requirements that were placed on the company,” says David Anderson, a public affairs specialist with the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Minne-apolis.

Corn Plus attorney Dulce Foster says the company has implemented “a new code of conduct” employees must follow.

“They’re doing a lot to ramp up their employee training. To make sure everybody knows what needs to be done on the environmental front,” she says.

Plant manager Keith Kor says the facility already has someone who handles environmental issues. He would not say how many hours the employee currently spends on those duties.

As expected, the ethanol producer was fined $100,000 and ordered to pay the state’s Department of Natural Resources $50,000 to benefit the Rice Creek Watershed.

Foster says Corn Plus officials, “sincerely regret the discharges that occurred and any impact they had on the Rice Lake area community.”

She says they have worked hard on developing an environmental compliance policy.

“There’s been a lot of effort and time, and that costs money,” Foster says.

In August, Corn Plus pleaded guilty to one count of negligent discharge of pollutants under the Clean Water Act.

In a plea agreement, Corn Plus admitted that between 2005 and August 2007 the company failed to exercise due and reasonable care in preventing polluted wastewater from discharging into a ditch leading to Rice Lake.

The wastewater, which contained biological oxygen, reportedly entered a drain on the company’s property and emptied into the lake.

The company’s $50,000 payment will be matched by the Reinvest in Minnesota Critical Habitat Match Program to purchase 25 acres of land that includes an outlet into Rice Lake.