Idaho Cheese Company, EPA Reach Settlement

Jun 5, 2013

Credit Greg Harness / Flickr Creative Commons

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency [EPA] has reached a settlement agreement with Jerome Cheese Company that would have the cheesemaker paying more than $300,000 in fines for dumping too many pollutants into the Snake River.

The federal agency sued the Davisco Foods International-owned Jerome Cheese Company in Boise's U.S. District Court in 2011, contending that the cheesemaker dumped wastewater containing pollutants into an irrigation system that eventually flows into the Snake River between 2006 and 2010. The company has a permit allowing it to dump some pollutants, but the EPA said the company exceeded the allowable amounts of phosphorus and ammonia at times.

Jerome Cheese Company's permits require it to sample its wastewater effluent once a month to measure the amounts and concentrations of various pollutants. The EPA alleged that Jerome Cheese Company sometimes failed to do so and failed to notify the EPA within 24 hours when it became aware of discharges that exceeded the maximum daily permit limits. The company's also accused of not submitting the required annual reports for 2007 and 2008.

Based on the maximum allowable daily fine, the EPA could have sought roughly $100 million in penalties.

Under the settlement agreement, Davisco doesn't admit any liability, nor does it acknowledge that the EPA's contentions are factual. But the company does agree to pay a civil penalty of $304,000 plus interest. The settlement still must undergo a 30-day public comment period before it can be finalized.