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South Dakota ag processor fined again for contamination of waterway

PIERRE, SD – The South Dakota Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has fined Smithfield Foods, Inc. (Smithfield) $46,260 for Surface Water Discharge Permit violations at their facility in Sioux Falls.

Smithfield’s Sioux Falls wastewater treatment plant discharges to the Big Sioux River under a state-issued Surface Water Discharge Permit. Between February 1, 2019, and July 31, 2019, Smithfield reported violations of its permit limits for total suspended solids, biochemical oxygen demand, ammonia, fecal coliform, and toxicity test.

“Smithfield has addressed these violations,” said DENR Secretary Hunter Roberts. “However, this penalty reinforces the need for permit compliance. DENR expects operators to comply with their permits and will continue to work closely with Smithfield to prevent future violations.”

In response to the reported violations, DENR required Smithfield to collect daily water quality samples in the Big Sioux River to document any potential impacts. The results indicated the discharge violations did not lead to exceedances of the South Dakota Surface Water Quality Standards in the river.

As ordered in DENR’s Oct. 23 Notice of Violation, Smithfield must conduct additional toxicity monitoring if there are any further violations. Smithfield must also complete an evaluation of its water collection system and implement approved corrective actions to minimize excess water flows during precipitation events.

Smithfield operates a wastewater treatment plant in Sioux Falls to treat the wastewater generated by its operations. DENR requires Smithfield to sample its discharge and report any violations.

In 2018, the South Dakota DENR fined Smithfield Foods more than $53,000 for violating its surface water discharge permit. Smithfield reported on Aug. 15 that a problem at its Sioux Falls wastewater plant was causing higher-than-allowed ammonia levels to be discharged into the Big Sioux River, violating the permitted daily maximum limit for seven days in August, according to the DENR. During that time frame, the facility also had two daily maximum fecal coliform violations and one daily maximum total suspended solids violation, according to the DENR. 

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