Updated: 12:23 p.m. March 7 | Posted: 4:59 p.m. March 6
The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency has fined an ethanol plant in Morris more than $22,000 for polluting nearby wetlands and rivers.
DENCO II agreed to the fine and will take steps to prevent the polluted stormwater and wastewater from discharging into wetlands that drain to the Pomme de Terre River.
An MPCA investigation found the plant violated its permit by failing to adequately monitor, report and correct excessive amounts of organic material, disinfectants and other pollutants.
High levels of organic matter, such as dust from corn and grain, can lower oxygen levels in the water. The disinfectants, known as residual oxidants, can include chlorine and bromine that are harmful to fish and aquatic life.
The plant's permit requires it to meet pollution limits on water it discharges into nearby wetlands, said Joe Braun, an environmental specialist with the MPCA.
"If they're above that limit, we obviously don't want them there because that could have impact on microorganisms in the water and their ability to survive," Braun said.
The MPCA says the problems occurred from 2010 through January 2018.
The facility plans to switch from using groundwater to treated city water, which the MPCA says will make it easier to meet limits for dissolved salts in the discharged water.
A spokesperson from DENCO II released a statement to MPR News saying that the "majority of the violations were administrative in nature and not related to polution."
"DENCO II has cooperated fully with the MPCA. The pollution violations that were identified were related to dust and organic material from receiving corn. DENCO II remains committed to protecting the environment and has taken steps to correct the violations," the statement said.