An ethanol co-op in Kandiyohi County will pay an $800,000 fine for exceeding its wastewater permit and not telling the state about it.
The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency says Bushmills Ethanol in Atwater discharged water that was too high in minerals for at least two years, while filing reports indicating its treatment process was working fine.
The MPCA's chief enforcement officer Jeff Connell said the plant could have trucked the waste to a more suitable wastewater treatment plant.
"They did make some bad business decisions," Connell said. "They've settled with the agency and the state of Minnesota, so hopefully they learned their lesson. The penalties were appropriate; they didn't gain any competitive advantage from making these bad choices."
Connell said the Bushmills plant is looking for alternative sources of water that are not so high in minerals. The company did not reply to a request for comment.
Connell said in general, ethanol plants are doing better at meeting state standards. The agency recently completed a year-long intensive effort to help the industry comply with its permits.
"We're pleased," Connell said. "We're willing to work with them and hopefully that's having some impact."