South-central Idaho milk processing plant fined $170K

JEROME, Idaho (AP) - A south-central Idaho milk processing company has agreed to pay a $170,000 fine for dumping wastewater with acidity levels high enough to damage Jerome's wastewater treatment plant.

The Times-News reports that the Environmental Protection Agency announced the agreement with Idaho Milk Products in a statement on Monday.

The agency says the company between March 2009 and July 2012 exceeded its acidity limit 138 times.

Jerome City Administrator Mike Williams said no damage has been reported concerning the city's wastewater system during that timeframe.

Idaho Milk Products said in a statement it has taken steps to make sure future discharges meet standards.

"We take these matters seriously and moved quickly to address this issue so that we stay in compliance with all government and industry standards," said Kent Giddings, general manager of Idaho Milk Products.

Improper acidity levels can cause corrosion, reduce the ability of bacteria to break down sewage, and lead to potential leaks.

The dairy said the violations occurred shortly after it began operations in 2009. The company makes milk protein isolate and concentrate, milk permeate, and milk cream derivatives for food companies.

The violations at Idaho Milk Products come after the EPA reached a settlement with nearby Jerome Cheese Co., which the federal agency said dumped wastewater containing pollutants into an irrigation system between 2006 and 2010.

The EPA alleged Jerome Cheese exceeded the allowable amounts of phosphorus and ammonia at times and that the pollutants reached the Snake River.

In July, Jerome Cheese paid $304,000 in fines. Under the settlement agreement, Jerome Cheese said it didn't admit liability or acknowledge the EPA's allegations were true.

___

Information from: The Times-News