Morning Star Packing Company Issued $1.5 Million Penalty, Cease and Desist Order for Wastewater Violations

Feb 22, 2016 7:34 PM by News Staff

The Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board issued a $1.5 million civil liability against Morning Star Packing Company for the unauthorized expansion of two wastewater ponds, and the reduction in cropland used to dispose of wastewater, the board said in a statement.

It is estimated that approximately 266 million gallons of wastewater was discharged from the unpermitted expansions of the ponds to groundwater at the company’s tomato packing facility in Williams, Colusa County.

The violations listed in the Cease and Desist Order include the unpermitted expansion of the wastewater cooling pond from 60 acres to 100 acres, and the unauthorized discharge of tomato waste into this pond.

The expansion of the cooling pond resulted in the reduction in cropland from 695 acres to 485 acres. The crops are intended to remove the contaminants before the wastewater percolates into the groundwater. However, Morning Star’s improper wastewater disposal exceeded the cropland loading limits for nitrogen, salt and organic waste.

Morning Star failed to disclose the two pond expansions to the Board during the 2012 permit update process, and therefore the existing permit does not consider the effect of the expansions on groundwater quality.

The discharge of wastewater is regulated by the Regional Water Board through the issuance of waste discharge requirements, which contain conditions intended to protect surface water and groundwater quality.

“In adopting this order, our Board members noted the egregious nature of Morning Star’s actions” said Andrew Altevogt, assistant executive officer for the Regional Water Board. “When a discharger chooses to mislead our staff in this way, we are unable to assure that their practices will be protective of water quality.”

The Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board is a California state agency responsible for the preservation and enhancement of quality in water resources.


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