FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
October 7, 2011
Contact: Jonathan Maness
Phone: (507) 665-8811
JEROME, Idaho, Oct. 7, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Jerome Cheese Company responded to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Department of Justice's (DOJ) filing of an enforcement action against the company earlier this week in the federal district court for the District of Idaho. "The water we discharge is extraordinarily clean. EPA is alleging paperwork violations that resulted from EPA's own errors and failure to process Jerome Cheese's wastewater permit application," said Jon Davis, Jerome Cheese's Chief Operations Officer.
EPA's complaint centers on small amounts of phosphorus Jerome Cheese discharges to a drainage canal. The Idaho Department of Environmental Quality (IDEQ) has long recognized Jerome Cheese's historic discharge of these small amounts of phosphorus and labeled the load as "very low." Jerome Cheese's historic load is less than ten pounds per day. By contrast, EPA allows two other food manufacturers in the area to each discharge about 500 pounds of phosphorus per day.
EPA now alleges Jerome Cheese's small amounts of discharged phosphorus are not allowed under Jerome Cheese's federal permit. Responding to these allegations, Davis stated, "What EPA leaves out of its allegations is that EPA misapplied the relevant State of Idaho water-quality report, resulting in EPA issuing an incorrect permit. EPA created this problem by giving us the wrong limits in our permit."
Jerome Cheese applied for a renewed federal discharge permit in 2006. "We have been diligently pursuing the new permit ever since," said Davis. "We have prompted EPA more than once about our application. Nonetheless, five years later, EPA still has not acted on the 2006 application, presumably because the potential for environmental harm was so low that the application was not a priority for EPA."
Davis continued, "We also sought to be allowed to trade phosphorus credits, a practice the cities of Twin Falls and Jerome were also actively pursuing with EPA. After many years of little or no communication from EPA and repeated communication from us, on March 12, 2010, EPA finally chose to tell us that phosphorus trading would no longer be allowed by us or the cities of Twin Falls or Jerome. Six days later, Jerome Cheese received a notice for almost five years of violations. EPA appears more interested in announcing exorbitant fines and less interested in the actual quality of the environment. This is not a case about protecting the environment. This is a case about paperwork that EPA incorrectly issued and then failed to fix. EPA's actions are frustrating to say the least."
Jerome Cheese Company is an operating division of Davisco Foods International, Inc., a family-owned company producing quality cheese and whey products for over 60 years.
For more information, please contact Jonathan Maness at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (507) 665-8811.
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