Law Street Media

EPA Sues Egg-Processing Plant In Nebraska For Violating Clean Water Act

Six brown eggs in an egg carton.

Eggs background. Closeup view of eggs in carton box on wooden table. Food and health concept.

The Department of Justice (DOJ), on behalf of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Attorney General of Nebraska, sued Henningsen Foods Inc. for violating the Federal Water Pollution Act and the Nebraska Environmental Protection Act.  The government alleged Henningsen Foods caused or contributed to David City, Nebraska’s violations of its National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit and their Nebraska Pretreatment Program (NPP) permit.

Henningsen Foods owns and operates an egg-processing plant in David City.  The violations alleged by the government stem from the defendant’s discharge into David City’s publicly owned treatment works (POTW).

The EPA conducted a compliance sampling inspection in November 2016 of the David City POTW and the defendant’s facility.  Part of the inspection included a review of compliance records.  The review showed that the David City POTW violated its NPDES permit limits “on numerous occasion” between January 2014 and the present, “and that corresponding discharges from Defendant’s Facility to the POTW caused or contributed to many of the City’s violations.”  Henningsen Foods discharged biochemical oxygen demand (BOD) into the water which spiked David City’s levels.  Additionally, “[o]n numerous occasions between January 2014 and the present, Defendant discharged BOD, TSS, TKN, variable pH, and/or oil and grease into the David City POTW, which inhibited and/or disrupted the POTW.”

Henningsen had daily maximum levels of discharge for BOD, TSS, and pH set by its NPP permit, which after review the EPA found violations “on numerous occasions between January 2014 and the present.”  The EPA consolidate its allegations into three claims: pass through and interference violations, pretreatment effluent limit violations, and pretreatment monitoring and reporting violations.  Under the first claim, its alleged pass through and interference occurred as described above, by the facility discharging pollutants into the POTW.  The second claim focused more on the discharging on BOD in excess of the maximum limit set.  Finally, the third claim alleged submission of “inaccurate and/or incomplete information” to the government.

If found liable, the EPA is requesting the court to order Henningsen Food to pay the thousands of dollars penalty laid out by the Clean Water Act and Nebraska law for each day of violation.  Also, the EPA is seeking to enjoin the facility from operating in violation of the Clean Water Act.

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