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Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen Announces Judgment Requiring Oconto County Cheese Making Facility to Pay $40,000 in Forfeitures, Fees and Costs

 

MADISON — Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen has announced that his office has obtained a judgment against Saputo Cheese USA, Inc., of Lincolnshire, Illinois, requiring it to pay $40,000 in forfeitures, mandatory court costs, surcharges, and attorney fees for violations of its Wisconsin Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (WPDES) permit at its Lena, Wisconsin cheese making facility.

 

According to the complaint, beginning on November 17, 2009, and ending on November 18, 2009, lift station pumps at the cheese making facility failed, causing untreated wastewater to overflow and bypass Saputo Cheese's wastewater treatment plant.  The untreated wastewater discharged into an unnamed tributary of the Little River, which flows into the Oconto River.  The unscheduled bypass of untreated wastewater is a violation of Saputo Cheese's WPDES permit.

 

Daily monitoring reports submitted by Saputo Cheese indicated that in November 2009, January and February 2010, and February and April 2011, Saputo Cheese exceeded its biochemical oxygen demand and total suspended solids permit effluent limits.  Furthermore, Saputo Cheese violated its WPDES permit during January 2010 for failing to report violations of biochemical oxygen demand effluent limitations by telephone within 24 hours, or by written report within five days, after becoming aware of the violations.

 

The addition of organic material can cause short and long-term changes to a stream.  In the short-term, these discharges can lead to fish and invertebrate mortality and an acute drop in dissolved oxygen.  Long-term impacts include habitat alteration and degraded water quality. 

 

Saputo Cheese has cooperated with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources to ensure future compliance with its WPDES permit.  As a result of the violations specified in the complaint, Saputo Cheese instituted new training for its employees regarding environmental awareness and spill notification, upgraded its facility, and developed improved tracking of its wastewater treatment plant operation. 

 

Assistant Attorney General Bradley J. Motl represented the State.  The settlement was approved by Oconto County Circuit Court Judge Michael T. Judge.

 

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

Complaint

Judgment

Stipulation and Order for Judgment