Ethanol plant fined $87K for environmental violations

Staff Reports Posted 25 January 2016 at 12:00 am

Industrial cleaning company also fined $50K

MEDINA – Western New York Energy, owner of an ethanol plant on Bates Road in Medina, has been fined $87,000 for violating the State Environmental Conservation Law.

The State Department of Environmental Conservation reported today that the company was fined in Shelby Town Court on Jan. 14 for illegally disposing of industrial waste on its Shelby property.

The fine stems from a 2013 investigation into illegal activities at Western New York Energy by the DEC’s Police’s Bureau of Environmental Crimes Investigation 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 DEC said in a news release.

The case was prosecuted by the Attorney General’s office. In addition to the fine for Western New York Energy, Hydro-Klean pleaded guilty in the Town of Shelby Court in August 2015 to the unlawful disposal of industrial wastes and was fined $50,000.

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.

DEC encourages anyone with information on environmental crimes and violations to call its 24-hour hotline, at 1-844-DEC-ECOs (1-844-332-3267). An online form also is available by clicking here.