Western Sugar reaches settlement over environmental violations at Fort Morgan, Colo plant

Published: May. 19, 2018 at 11:12 AM CDT
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The Western Sugar Cooperative has been fined $2 million as part of a settlement of air, water and solid waste violations and non-compliance found at the company's Fort Morgan, Colo. plant.

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment announced a settlement between the department and Western Sugar in a release Friday.

Violations of Colorado's Colorado’s Air Pollution Prevention and Control Act included exceeding the state’s regulatory odor limits. Water quality violations include discharges of pollutants, including fecal coliform and sulfide, which significantly exceeded the company's permit limits. The department also cited Western Sugar for unauthorized spills, and said water quality violations likely contributed to odor issues affecting Fort Morgan residents.

In addition to air and water quality violations, CDPHE says Western Sugar operated two large waste stockpiles of coal ash and precipitated in violation of state solid waste regulations. The piles of the manufacturing by-products are visible from Interstate 76 and Route 52.

CDPHE environmental program director Martha Rudolph, said, "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 fails to comply with certain terms of the settlement.