This weeks edition of the Morrison County Record and a previous edition, reported on a sizable fat spill at a Jennie-O feed mill that entered the cities sewer system in Swanville. According to the Records initial report in the October 5th, 2007 edition “2 truckloads had to be pumped out of the system. It was 4 feet deep at the lift station.”

The Record went on to report the following: When asked if it had happened before, Zapzalka said, “This is the worst it’s been yet. They are saying it was only 10 gallons. It was a lot more than that. They have been asking for reduced sewer rates. I would suggest upping the rates. I would suggest the city require them to put in a grease trap. The lines are all coated with grease now and the aeration valve is getting plugged. We may have future equipment problems from this.”

When asked if Minnesota Pollution Control had been notified, City Engineer Mark Hallen of Widseth Smith Nolting said, “It never got out of the plant. It was not discharged so the MPCA did not have to be notified.

On November 11th, 2007 the Record reported the following:  

Wipf said one load of fat was removed by American Septic the day of the incident, and showed to be a minimal amount based on inventory the company had taken. “It was between $7,000 and $8,000 worth of product,” Wipf said.

City Engineer Mark Hallan of Widseth Smith Nolting talked about the city’s sewer system, and reviewed the repair of the clarifier. Brian Zapzalka, the city’s maintenance person, was present to provide his input. There had been some difficulty in locating the replacement part, and even if a replacement part was found, it would cost approximately $12,500. Zapzalka has been able to repair some parts, which have helped the system run better.

The sewer project has been put on the priority list for Morrison County. The city also is no longer operating well number two for water supply for the city. “The Department of Health has been notified of this,” said Hallan.

What a big fat mess. MPCA”s fact sheet and documentation on Minnesota Statute 115.016 states: Anyone who spills is required to report.  EVERY person who has “any substance or material under its control” must report spills and leaks. Report spills that may cause pollution, such as spills of toxic, flammable, corrosive and dangerous industrial chemicals. Also report spills of environmentally damaging materials, including milk, coal, animal parts,batteries, etc. Reportable quantities Minnesota has a reporting threshold of greater than five-gallons for petroleum spills. Spills of any quantity of all other chemicals or materials should be reported.

The Health Department was contact? Does that mean there was a water quality issue?

When the paper reports that “the sewer project” was bumped up the priority list…does that mean that the damage is being paid for by taxpayers of the county,  the city or the plant?

Chewing the Fat with Fish Lips,

Brooke Trout

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