JEROME, Idaho — Idaho Milk Products, Inc. has agreed to pay the Environmental Protection Agency $170,000 to settle allegations it violated the Clean Water Act.
The company’s wastewater, which goes into the city’s sewer system, routinely over a three-year period failed to meet the federal water quality limit for acidity (pH), according to a press release from EPA.
EPA and Idaho Milk Processors have not yet returned calls seeking comment.
The facility has taken steps to ensure future discharges meet standards and agreed to pay a $170,000 penalty. The company processes dairy products, the press release stated.
The wastewater is treated at the city of Jerome’s wastewater treatment plant. From March 2009 to July 2012, EPA found that Idaho Milk Products exceeded the pH limit 138 times.
"Discharges from industrial facilities that exceed standards can impact water quality in downstream waterways and jeopardize the integrity of the treatment facility," Ed Kowalski, enforcement director for EPA’s Pacific Northwest Regional Office, said in the release.
Industrial wastewater discharges must meet federal standards for pH and temperature under the National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES). Discharges must also comply with conditions set by the waste treatment facility.
Low pH wastewater is corrosive and can compromise the integrity of the wastewater collection system pipes, leading to potential leakage. In addition, low and high pH can negatively affect bacteria and micro-organisms that break down sewage, EPA stated.
The press release offers no explanation as to how the violations were discovered.