Ethanol Plant Sued for Pollution

April 14, 2009 | Roger McEowen


An ethanol plant near Oshkosh, Wisconsin, has been sued under the Clean Water Act’s (CWA) citizen suit provision (33 U.S.C. §1365(f)) for allegedly dumping approximately 170,000 gallons of effluent a day into the Fox River and Lake Winnebago.  That breaks down to about 62 million gallons of wastewater containing effluent per year, for the plant that produces approximately 50 million gallons of ethanol annually.  The plant had been notified of numerous permit violations by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR), but failed to respond, so the plaintiff, a local conservation group filed suit in federal court alleging that the plant was in violation of the CWA.  The plaintiff claims that the plant dumped excessive amounts of chlorine, phosphorous, oil, grease, zinc and other chemicals into CWA-jurisdictional waters for more than six years.  The plant also allegedly failed to notify the WDNR of its discharge permit violations.  The plaintiff is seeking an injunction against the plant that would require it to install the appropriate water treatment technology and take the necessary actions to prevent future CWA violations.  The plaintiff also is seeking an order that would require the plant to remediate the harm caused by its past and currently ongoing CWA violations, and an award of attorney fees.  The plaintiff is represented by Karen M. Schapiro of Madison.  Clean Water Action Council of Northeastern Wisconsin, Inc. v. Utica Energy, LLC, filed Apr. 9, 2009, in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin.