New York Ethanol Refinery Fined $87,000 for Waste Disposal
– January 25, 2016, Democrat and Chronicle
The operator of an Orleans County ethanol production plant has been fined $87,000 in relation to illegal disposal of industrial waste from its manufacturing operation, ending an inquiry that dates to 2013.
Western New York Energy, which processes corn into biofuel, allowed wastewater that contained petroleum hydrocarbons, ethanol, trace amounts of ammonia and shards of burned corn to be dumped on its property in the town of Shelby, just outside the village of Medina. The state Department of Environmental Conservation said Monday that the water, generated in biannual cleaning of plant equipment, should have been treated as industrial waste and disposed of elsewhere.
Hydro-Klean, an Iowa company that cleaned the tanks and dumped the wastewater on the ground at the rear of the plant, pleaded guilty in Shelby Town Court in August 2015 to unlawful disposal of industrial wastes and was fined $50,000, the DEC said.
After negotiation with the state Attorney General’s office, Western New York Energy agreed to pay an $87,000 fine and entered a guilty plea Jan. 14 in Shelby Town Court.
In a statement released Monday, company president and chief executive Michael Sawyer said primary responsibility for the improper waste disposal lay with Hydro-Klean. But Western New York Energy “acknowledges that it has responsibility for events that occur on its property,” Sawyer’s statement said.
“We are glad to see the matter resolved and appreciate the state’s cooperation in addressing this issue,” he said.
After members of the public alerted the DEC to the disposal in 2013, agency criminal investigators observed the activity to help make their case.
“Fortunately, independent testing confirmed that there was no environmental harm as a result of the contractor’s actions,” Sawyer said. DEC spokesman Benning DeLaMater confirmed there was no evidence the dumping caused lasting damage.
Operators at the plant, one of two commercial-scale ethanol producers in New York state, now have wastewater from cleaning operations hauled to a local wastewater treatment plant for processing.