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November 9, 2018

Dairy pays $100,000 penalty for air-quality violations

Prairie Farms also agrees to add pollution-control equipment

A Northeast Iowa cheesemaker has paid a $100,000 penalty and agreed to install $1.4 million in pollution-control measures after violating air quality limits for 12 years.

Prairie Farms Dairy in Luana admitted violating air-emission limits in a consent decree with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources and the Iowa Attorney General’s Office. The decree was signed this week by District Judge Margaret L. Lingreen in Clayton County District Court.

Prairie Farms uses a whey dryer in the production of swiss cheese that emits whey particles to the outside air. The state alleged in a petition that in 2004, the dairy removed a baghouse, an air pollution control device to remove particulate matter. The DNR discovered in 2013 that the dairy had removed the baghouse without seeking a construction permit.

In 2016, the dairy installed a dryer stack fan that reduced emissions, and it has remained in compliance with applicable emission limits since then. As part of the consent decree, Prairie Farms agreed to install a baghouse at a cost of $1.4 million to further reduce particulate matter emissions significantly below their permitted limits.

The plant formally operated under the name Swiss Valley Farms. Prairie Farms and Swiss Valley merged in April 2017.

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