Foster Farms faces a $44,000 penalty for releasing untreated chicken processing wastewater from its Kelso processing facility on June 6, 2015, to the Three Rivers Regional Wastewater Treatment Plant, and not reporting it in a timely manner, as required.
The treatment plant was overwhelmed by the volume of the waste and some of it reached the Columbia River.
State water quality regulations require Foster Farms to pre-treat its wastewater before it is discharged to the Three Rivers treatment plant. The event was a violation of Foster Farms water quality permit.
“If they had immediately reported the discharge, the treatment plant could have had a chance to prepare for it and better protect the river,” said Heather Bartlett, manager of Ecology’s Water Quality Program.
TThree Rivers treatment plant operators found large amounts of grease and feathers throughout their plant. They removed nearly one cubic yard of feathers and other chicken processing waste from the plant’s inlet screen, an amount that would fill about half a pick-up truck bed.
In addition to the fine, Ecology ordered Foster Farms to update its operation and maintenance manual to identify how it will protect the Three Rivers Regional Wastewater Treatment Plant from these types of discharges in the future.
“Environmental responsibility is important to all of us at Foster Farms. During the installation of new wastewater treatment equipment at our Kelso, Washington, facility, an unplanned discharge occurred. While employees worked to correct the treatment issue on site immediately, the company regrets that notification was inadvertently delayed to the Three Rivers Regional Wastewater Treatment Plant. Foster Farms has an excellent record of permit compliance and self-reporting. The company is reinforcing notification procedures throughout facility operations. We have also taken steps to prevent future wastewater issues. Foster Farms intends to pay the penalty,” Foster Farms said in a statement.
Foster Farms, based in Kelso, may appeal the penalty and order within 30 days to the Pollution Control Hearings Board.