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Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen Announces Judgment Requiring BelGioioso Cheese to Construct New Wastewater Treatment Plant, Update its Land Spreading Plans and Pay $45,000


MADISON — Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen announced today that the Wisconsin Department of Justice (DOJ) has reached a settlement with Manitowoc and Oconto County cheese maker, BelGioioso Cheese, Inc., resolving the State's complaint charging the company with Wisconsin Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (WPDES) permit land spreading violations.


BelGioioso operates five cheese-making facilities in northeast Wisconsin. The State's complaint charges it with violating individual permit terms at one of the facilities and with violating general permit terms at another. The violations included land spreading industrial dairy waste too close to, and into, a drainage way, spreading on saturated soils, runoff to a wetland, winter spreading on sites not approved for the winter months, and failure to report noncompliance. The claims were based on inspections triggered by hotline complaints at various locations in Manitowoc and Oconto Counties.


BelGioioso responded to the State's enforcement action by taking responsibility for the violations, retaining consultants, and taking steps to improve and minimize its land spreading activities. As part of the parties' settlement, BelGioioso agreed to create and implement a comprehensive wastewater management plan for all five of its facilities. This plan will enable BelGioioso to stay in and exceed compliance, and it will benefit its neighbors, especially in Brown County, where storage and disposal options for cheese plant wastewater are quite limited. In addition, BelGioioso has committed to construct a DNR-approved wastewater treatment plant designed to comply with its WPDES permit limits and conditions at its Glenmore-Denmark facility. The company estimates that this plant will cost approximately $1.5 million.


"We rely on wastewater permit holders to adhere to the State's land spreading rules and permit conditions, site specific approval conditions, and land spreading management plans so that Wisconsin's surface and groundwater resources may be protected," Attorney General VanHollen said. "The Department of Justice will continue to work with the DNR to ensure compliance with the law."


Assistant Attorney General JoAnne Kloppenburg represented the State. Dane County Circuit Court Judge Amy R. Smith approved the parties' settlement and incorporated it in the Court's judgment.


Copies of the Judgment, Stipulation and Order for Judgment and Complaint are available at the following links:


Stipulation and Order for Judgment