116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
A Dubuque fertilizer and grain storage company has agreed to pay nearly $270,000 after a June 2020 fertilizer spill that killed hundreds of fish and mussels.
Gavilon Grain, which signed a consent order with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources on Oct. 22, alerted the Iowa DNR on June 18, 2020, an operator was transferring 32 percent nitrogen fertilizer between aboveground tanks when the receiving tank was overfilled.
The transfer was not staffed and the spill not immediately detected, the DNR reported.
Up to 1 million gallons of fertilizer flowed from the facility, at 1200 Kerper Blvd., through storm sewers into Bee Branch Pond, which sometimes flows into the Mississippi River, the order states.
“DNR concluded that the fertilizer release caused an impact to BBP causing harm to aquatic life (at least 787 fish and 181 mussels killed),” the consent order states. The largest part of the assessment against Gavilon is $244,705 to restore giant floater and plain pocketbook mussels.
In past years, the Iowa DNR has joined efforts to restore native freshwater mussels to Iowa waterways, in part because of the creatures’ ability to filter bacteria and other pollutants from the water.
Gavilon also agreed to pay $18,282 in fish restitution and investigative costs for the 2020 spill. The DNR assessed $7,000 in administrative penalties for gravity and culpability of the incident, among other factors.
“Gavilon’s storage of 4,000,000 gallons of high-strength nitrogen fertilizer adjacent to BBP and UMR (Mississippi River) without overfill and leak detection was not contrary to existing state or federal requirements, but installing overfill and leak detection would be prudent prevention measures if conducting unstaffed tank filling activities,” the order states.
A consent order is issued as an alternative to an administrative order and indicates the DNR and the regulated entity, in this case Gavilon, agreed on the terms.
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