Organic foodmaker Nature’s Path has agreed to spend an estimated $29,800 for a park and stormwater treatment project in Blaine, Wash., to settle a claim by the Department of Ecology that it violated its permit to discharge wastewater.
The company, based across the Canadian border in Richmond, British Columbia, denied any wrongdoing, but agreed to the resolution to avoid further litigation, according to settlement documents.
“Nature’s Path is very pleased that the DOE dismissed our case and accepted our 2016 appeal that enables us to make significant environmental reports to Blaine,” the company vice president for operations, Peter Dierx, said in a written statement.
Ecology fined Nature’s Path $22,000 a year ago, alleging that the company’s records showed it discharged acidic wastewater from its Blaine plant. The company said faulty equipment misrecorded pH levels and appealed the fine to the Pollution Control Hearings Board. The settlement ends the appeal.
Nature’s Path agreed to spend $20,000 to buy two lots along Caine Creek in Blaine for a city park.
The company also will spend $3,000 for clean up and restoration, including removing weeds and planting trees. The agreement calls for Nature’s Path to provide work parties next spring and in 2019.
The company also will spend $1,000 on park signs and another $800 for ongoing garbage pickup and a three-year supply of bags to dispose of pet waste.
Nature’s Path will also contribute $5,000 to a city project to treat stormwater going into Drayton Harbor.
The company in August submitted a report to Ecology on improvements to the wastewater treatment system at the plant. According to the report, fat, oil and grease interfered with equipment measuring pH levels in wastewater.
The plant has been in compliance with standards for pH levels since January, according to the settlement.
“We’re pleased to see this excellent progress at Nature’s Path facility and these valuable enhancements for the city.” Ecology’s Northwest regional director Tom Buroker said in a written statement. “We value this partnership because the assistance to the city goes above what our penalty assessed and, more importantly, beyond what’s required to comply with the permit.”
The 150,000-square-foot processing and packaging plant opened in 1999. The plant produces approximately 750,000 pounds of cereal, granola and bars in a week, according to the company’s report.