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Western Sugar fined $2 million for Fort Morgan plant violations

Western Sugar fined $2 million for Fort Morgan plant violations
Western Sugar factory in Scottsbluff. KNEB/Chabella Guzman
DENVER— The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment has announced a settlement between the department and the Western Sugar Cooperative to address noncompliance with environmental laws at Western Sugar’s Fort Morgan sugar beet processing plant.
The settlement includes a $2 million fine for violations of Colorado’s Air Pollution Prevention and Control Act, Water Quality Control Act, and Solid Wastes Disposal Sites and Facilities Act. Air pollution violations include exceeding the state’s regulatory odor limits. Water quality violations include discharges of pollutants, including fecal coliform and sulfide, which significantly exceeded Western Sugar’s permit limits. The department also cited Western Sugar for unauthorized spills during the time frame at issue. Water quality violations likely contributed to odor issues affecting Fort Morgan residents.
In addition to air and water quality violations, Western Sugar operated two large waste stockpiles, which are visible from Interstate 76 and Route 52, in violation of state solid waste regulations. These stockpiles contain coal ash and precipitated calcium carbonate ― both byproducts of the facility’s manufacturing process.
Martha Rudolph, director of environmental programs for the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, said, “The state’s compliance and enforcement efforts are intended to protect public health and the environment. We’re encouraged by Western Sugar’s commitment to undertake a significant overhaul to bring its Fort Morgan facility into compliance. Each step of the overhaul will proceed along a timeline and, when completed, both the residents of Fort Morgan and the environment will benefit from the improvements Western Sugar is making.”
Under the terms of the settlement, Western Sugar agreed to:
  • Identify and implement wastewater treatment.
  • Eliminate and/or properly dispose of waste stockpiles and any new waste generated through its processes.
  • Investigate groundwater and soil impacts, and implement corrective measures if necessary.
  • Implement and comply with an odor management plan.
  • Retrofit existing coal-fired boilers with natural gas burners.
  • Establish financial assurance.
  • Provide funding for a local water quality restoration project.
  • Accept suspension of its environmental permits or licenses if it
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