Delaware County Dairy Violates Environmental Law

Attorney General Spitzer and Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Erin Crotty today announced that two interconnected units of a Delhi dairy company admitted violating state environmental laws for the actions of two employees who routinely falsified reports to the state on discharges from the dairy's wastewater treatment plant.

The two companies - DMV International Nutritionals, Inc. and Morningstar/Ultra Dairy, Inc. - once operated as a single dairy on Route 10 in Delhi. About 10 years ago they separated for business purposes but continued to share production facilities and a wastewater treatment plant, operated by Ultra under a permit from DEC. The companies violated state environmental law when their employees conspired to report falsely low discharges from the treatment facility in an effort to disguise the fact that they were discharging more pollutants than their permit allowed.

"Wastewater treatment operators have been given a public trust to operate their facilities properly," said Attorney General Spitzer. "We will continue to work with DEC to uphold our environmental laws and prosecute those who violate them as a matter of convenience."

DEC Commissioner Crotty said: "Wastewater treatment facilities play an important role in protecting water quality, and DEC continually monitors these plants to ensure they are meeting the standards of their permits. This enforcement action will help to ensure that the Delaware River and other natural resources in the local community are properly protected."

DMV produces hydrolized proteins used in nutritional supplements while Morningstar/Ultra produces fluid milk and ice cream mix. Together, the two companies employ 200 people.

Morningstar/Ultra and DMV operate a treatment plant to dispose of wastes from milk production processes, including whey, curds and scalding water used for pasteurizing. The wastewater treatment system consists of an aerated sludge lagoon and clarifier. Treated water is sent to a series of spray fields which have specific DEC conditions associated with their operation. Some cooling water from the process is discharged into the West Branch of the Delaware River.

In Town of Delhi Court today before Judge Joseph Skovira, DMV signed a consent order admitting it had violated the law and was assessed a fine of $150,000. DMV paid $100,000 of its fine today and has until March 31, 2002 to pay the remaining $50,000. Morningstar/Ultra also signed a consent order, paid a fine of $177,000 and agreed to operate its wastewater plant in compliance with its permit.

In addition, Robert Shaw, a 20-year DMV employee who worked at the treatment plant, and Craig Placek, a Morningstar/Ultra employee who supervised the plant, each pled guilty to an A-level misdemeanor for falsifying the plant's discharge records. Judge Skovira ordered Placek and Shaw to each pay a fine of $2,500. Placek paid his fine in court and Shaw was given 60 days to pay his fine.

When officials at DEC became suspicious of the data in Ultra-Morningstar's monthly treatment plant reports, they contacted the independent laboratory that does water testing for the dairy company and discovered that the lab had recorded higher numbers than those being reported to DEC by the dairy. After an investigation, DEC referred the case to the Attorney General's Office for prosecution.

The violations at the heart of this case occurred over a period of several years ending in December 2000.

The case was handled by Assistant Attorney General Rocky Piaggione, Chief of the Environmental Crimes Unit, under the supervision of Criminal Prosecutions Bureau Chief Janet Cohn. The case was investigated by Stephen Canfield and Joseph Conroy of the DEC under the supervision of Lt. David Wayman.


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