There are all sorts of ways to mess up a water body, and an Illinois company is finding just how expensive the consequences can be. Under a consent decree lodged this week, the Orval Kent Food Company will pay more than $32,000 to restock fish in the Spring River watershed. It will also pay a $390,000 civil penalty for polluting a 22-mile section of the Spring River that runs through Kansas and Oklahoma.
The company didn’t discharge anything directly to the river, however. According to the EPA, the food-processing plant’s operations routinely overloaded the Baxter Springs, Kansas, wastewater treatment plant with industrial wastewater, overwhelming the system. The wastewater treatment plant discharges to the Spring River, which is listed for turbidity and bacteria. The city of Baxter Springs says it was unable, as a result of the overloading, to comply with its NPDES permit.
The company had received an administrative compliance order from the EPA in 2008, after which it installed new wastewater treatment equipment and made changes designed to cut down on the amount of waste material it sent to the treatment plant.