State Penalties Potato Processing Factory In Hermiston For Contaminated Groundwater

Tuesday, the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality levied a fine of $127,800 on a potato processing facility in Hermiston for multiple wastewater violations that polluted the groundwater in neighboring communities. These violations occurred on multiple occasions.

According to the DEQ, the Lamb Weston facility in Hermiston, which produces approximately 750 million pounds of french fries annually, violated its wastewater permit a total of 90 times between the years 2015 and 2021. Additionally, the facility added approximately 224 tonnes of excess nitrate to farmland in the surrounding area.

The potato processor has water quality permission that enables it to use the nitrogen-rich wastewater from its processing factory to irrigate and fertilize crops on surrounding farms. The license was issued to the company so that it could comply with water quality regulations.

In addition, DEQ issued a citation to the facility for a separate leak of about 25,000 gallons of industrial wastewater onto the soil in the vicinity of the processing plant.

Since groundwater is the primary supply of drinking water for the people of Morrow and Umatilla counties, both of these counties are already struggling with the weight of contaminated groundwater.

State Penalties Potato Processing Factory
State Penalties Potato Processing Factory

During the process of Lamb Weston’s water pollution permit renewal in April, the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) uncovered scores of infractions and notified the company of those findings.

Shelby Stoolman, a spokesman for Lamb Weston, stated that the company takes environmental compliance very seriously and is currently giving the information it received from DEQ a comprehensive examination.

Following the receipt of the penalty, the corporation has twenty days to file an appeal of the fine. The organization is continuing to engage with Lamb Weston in the process of renewing its permission.

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