In New York state, an ethanol production plant has been fined after illegally disposing of industrial waste on its Shelby property. The fine stems from a 2013 investigation into illegal activities at Western New York Energy, LLC (WNYE) by the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Police’s Bureau of Environmental Crimes Investigation (BECI) unit.
The investigation, lead by DEC Investigator Chris Didion, determined that WNYE and Hydro-Klean, LLC, a company based in Iowa that specializes in industrial cleaning operations for the ethanol industry, were disposing industrial wastes generated during bi-annual plant cleanings.
WNYE processes corn into fuel grade ethanol, and high pressure water is used to clean burned corn out of the evaporators used in production. The resulting waste wash water, which included trace amounts of ammonia and diesel range organics and is considered an industrial waste, was loaded into a vacuum truck and transported to an area at the rear of the facility and dumped into the ground.
The case was prosecuted by the Attorney General’s office. Hydro-Klean plead guilty in the Town of Shelby Court in August 2015 to the unlawful disposal of industrial wastes and was fined $50,000. On January 14, the Town of Shelby Court sentenced WNYE to pay an $87,000 fine for violating the State Environmental Conservation Law.
WNYE has since changed its practices and now collects all waste water from cleaning operations and disposes of it at a local waste water treatment plant.