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Forum staff reports, Published November 20 2013

MPCA fines Perham $70,000 for odor from wastewater discharge

PERHAM, Minn. – The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency fined the city of Perham $70,000 for failing to properly regulate wastewater discharge from four businesses that eventually caused the town to stink in the spring of 2012.

In April 2012, the MPCA started to receive complaints from residents who said the smell from the city’s wastewater treatment ponds were so bad that some people could not have their windows open or hang clothes outside, and that the odors made them sick, according to a statement from the MPCA.

The MPCA found that waste water from four facilities – Barrel O’Fun Snack Food, Kenny’s Candy, Tuffy’s Pet Foods and Perham Egg – had caused lower dissolved oxygen levels and higher levels of hydrogen sulfide in the city’s wastewater ponds, which resulted in an odor.

The MPCA found Perham had not properly regulated the wastewater ponds or kept proper records on them. The agency also reported that Barrel O’Fun exceeded its limit for flow for 24 consecutive months during 2011-12.

Along with paying the $70,000 fine, the city was ordered to start enforcing all discharge agreements with local industry. The city also developed an action plan to handle future odor complaints, the release said.

Upgrades to facilities at the wastewater ponds and pretreatment improvements resulted in far fewer odor complaints this summer, the release said.