In an effort to resolve some of the unanswered questions raised by Brooke Trout’s report, “Jennie-O’s Big Fat Surprise for Swanville”, I decided to jump in to help with the digging.

 Initially everyone I spoke with regarding the spill referenced Mn. Statute 115.061and virtually everyone initially said the spill should have been reported. But after making a few more calls I was eventually directed to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) in Brainerd where I was put in touch with Walt Haas. Haas gathered some additional information and pointed out a couple of places within the statute that is considered a gray area and often interpreted differently.

In the case of Swanville the fat effected the cities sewer system but it is presumed that the spills effect didn’t move beyond the sewer system. If that is the case then officials can decide whether or not to report the spill.

While this clarifies some of the questions raised by the Morrison County Record’s coverage of the story, it doesn’t answer everything.  The Records second story about the spill groups the shutdown of a water tower within the same paragraph as the spill without stating why the tower was shut down. Haas at the MPCA said the shutdown of the tower must have been unrelated, but if that was the case then why was it couched within the same paragraph. Or was the sewer project discussed in that paragraph seperate from the sewer issues discussed prior to that paragraph.  From the article it is simply not made clear.

Also, we still don’t know who is footing the bill for the mess. Did Swanville taxpayers pay for the hauling of 2 truck loads of fat and replacement parts? What about the sewer project that has now been made a priority with Morrison County? 

Haas said that sometimes city or county officials are hesitant to hold the large companies accountable because they tend to contribute to political campaigns. 

So, the digging continues.

Olive Rockfish

 

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