Wallula feedlot pays reduced state fine, plans project to decrease dust

Simplot Feeders LLP has agreed to pay a reduced state fine and invest in a project to reduce small-particle pollution at their beef cattle feedlot operation in Walla Walla County.

The Washington Department of Ecology fined the company $50,000 in 2015 for failing to manage air pollution, including dust and dried manure, at its Wallula facility. Fine particles like dust can cause health problems for people who are exposed frequently and at high enough levels, the state agency said.

Simplot’s monitoring data shows that staff observed excess dust on site or leaving the property for more than 50 days between April and September 2015. The operators didn’t apply practices outlined in their dust control plan designed to prevent small-particle pollution, the state said.

State inspectors observed broken sprinklers and poor water application intended to control pollution from cattle pens and roadways. Inspectors also noted excess dust being released from the feed prep area.

Ecology reduced the amount to be paid to $35,000 as part of the settlement agreement. Also, Simplot agreed to pay $5,000 of the fine, and use the remainder to pay for a project to help improve air quality.

The project includes paving a high-traffic area to significantly reduce dust from vehicles driving in and out of the facility.

The settlement also requires Simplot to update the facility’s dust control plan to strengthen measures that prevent particle pollution. The plan calls for improved staff training, using water to control dust from roadways and cattle pens, and daily monitoring to determine if dust control practices need to be adjusted.

The Pollution Control Hearings Board dismissed Simplot’s appeal of the penalty on April 4.

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