Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller has filed an environmental enforcement lawsuit, alleging water pollution violations by Golden Oval Eggs, LLC, for its Thompson, Iowa, egg breaking facility.

The suit, filed in late March, alleges that Golden Oval has committed numerous and repeated violations of the discharge limits contained in its permit issued by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. Despite three Notices of Violations issued by the DNR, the violations have continued, the suit alleges.

The lawsuit seeks penalties for violations during April, May, and September of 2005; every month except November in 2006; and January and February of 2007. Violations are punishable by a civil penalty up to $5,000 per day per violation.

In April 2000, the DNR issued both a construction permit to Golden Oval, headquartered in Renville, Minn., and a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System Permit. There were nine barns at the facility in 2002, 15 barns by 2004, and 22 barns by 2006, with a capacity of 5.7 million chickens.

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Golden Oval says it will continue to work cooperatively and proactively with the Attorney General and the DNR to resolve the compliance issues as soon as possible. “This matter has had and will continue to have the full attention of Golden Oval’s management team until it is resolved to the DNR’s satisfaction,” says Dana Persson, Golden Oval’s president and CEO.

“We regret that these problems related to operation of our wastewater treatment plant have occurred. As the problems developed, Golden Oval’s operations team continually discussed and attempted different approaches in consultation with the DNR to resolve the compliance issues, and several methods have been implemented,” Persson says. “To correct these problems in the interim, Golden Oval has been trucking waste to state approved disposal facilities since last November while we work with the DNR and environmental engineers to find a more permanent resolution to the problem.”

Last year, with the approval of the DNR, Golden Oval added several surface aerators over time to increase the treatment capacity of the lagoon cells. A recent DNR inspection report says that the system is improving as a result of these changes, the company says. Biological Oxygen Demand (BOD) effluent permit levels have not been exceeded since October, Golden Oval states.