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July 13, 2011

Judge Orders Sioux Center Company to Close Lagoon, Penalizes Company in Environmental Case

Company also agrees to cease land-applying wastewater

(DES MOINES, Iowa)  A Sioux County judge has assessed $20,000 civil penalty against a Sioux Center pharmaceutical company for a variety of wastewater violations at or in relation to its wastewater storage lagoon located in rural Sioux County.

According to a consent decree filed Monday in Sioux County District Court, Sioux Pharm, Inc. violated Iowa’s wastewater laws by land applying wastewater in areas not approved land application, land applied wastewater within 300 feet of a continuous flowing stream that may provide direct connection to the groundwater, allowed wastewater to pond during land application, failed to maintain adequate freeboard in the lagoon to prevent overflows, and failed to maintain records and submit monthly operation reports.

On March 9, 2009 Attorney General Tom Miller filed an environmental lawsuit against Sioux Pharm, alleging that Sioux Pharm illegally discharged pharmaceutical wastewater into surface and groundwater of the state, repeatedly failed to maintain adequate “freeboard” at its wastewater storage lagoon, failed to properly land-apply wastewater, and failed to comply with monitoring and reporting requirements for its wastewater lagoon.

Sioux County District Judge Edward A. Jacobson ordered Sioux Pharm, Inc. to permanently close the wastewater storage lagoon by removing the contents and leveling the site by July 15, 2011.  The company has already closed the lagoon.  As part of the consent decree, Sioux Pharm, Inc. has also agreed to no longer land apply its wastewater.

Sioux Pharm, Inc. operates a pharmaceutical plant in Sioux Center.  The wastewater produced, primarily a digested beef protein which has been licensed as a soil conditioner with the Iowa Department of Agriculture, has been stored in a single cell storage lagoon in rural Sioux County.  The lagoon has a capacity of 860,000 gallons of wastewater.  Approximately 12,000 gallons of wastewater per day is hauled by tanker truck from the plant to the lagoon.  Wastewater is then land applied to surrounding crop fields.

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