News Feature | January 23, 2019

Michigan Sugar Co. Ordered To Pay Millions For 'Unreasonable' Odor Issues

Peter Chawaga - editor

By Peter Chawaga

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After allegations of undue wastewater odors, excess debris, and runoff complaints, Michigan Sugar Co. has agreed to pay $300,000 in fines, make millions of dollars in operational improvements, and contribute to nearby environmental projects.

The agreement came as the result of a lawsuit settlement with the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) signed in December.

“The lawsuit filed in 2017 stemmed from complaints and violations between 2013 and 2017 related to odor and water quality issues,” The Detroit News reported. “Specifically, the DEQ alleged the Bay City production facility emitted odors that created ‘an unreasonable interference’ to the public and discharged wastewater into state waterways without a valid permit.”

Michigan Sugar still denies DEQ’s allegations but was willing to sign the settlement to avoid the time and expense of litigation.

In addition to a requirement that Michigan Sugar comply with its wastewater discharge permit and reduce odors by investing in new equipment, it will also have to reduce the roadway debris that results from trucking operations.

“Some of the equipment upgrades were already underway prior to the settlement,” a Michigan Sugar spokesperson told The Detroit News. “He did not have an approximate price for the changes but said it was expected to cost millions.”

The settlement also requires that Michigan Sugar finance two local environmental projects to restore the Saginaw Bay Reef and create a tree barrier for dust and noise along an internal roadway. Those projects will cost an additional $262,500 combined.

“In addition to complying with its wastewater discharge permit, installing odor-control equipment and reducing trucking debris on nearby roads, the company will restore two rock reefs in Lake Huron’s Saginaw bay, creating habitat for walleye and whitefish,” according to WWMT. “Michigan Sugar Co. also will plant more than 100 trees to create a dust and noise barrier near its factory.”

To read more about wastewater requirements for industrial operations visit Water Online’s Wastewater Regulations And Legislation Solutions Center.

Image credit: "wetland reflections ~ Lake Huron," j van cise photos © 2014, used under an Attribution 2.0 Generic license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/