Government

New violations for Walz Energy feedlot and biogas site

Company has not yet complied with all requirements of August consent order, DNR says

Iowa DNR logo
Iowa DNR logo

An Eastern Iowa cattle feedlot and biogas facility fined $10,000 in August for environmental violations faces new allegations, the most recent from an inspection Monday.

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources issued a new notice of violation Wednesday against Walz Energy, a West Des Moines company building a 10,000-head feedlot and biogas facility near Monona. The DNR cited also Walz Aug. 21, Oct. 5, Oct. 23 with violating its stormwater discharge permit, according to a letter sent to the company this week.

Inspectors Monday arrived at the site, still under construction, and found large portions of uncovered soil, flooded stormwater basins, “severe erosion and gully formation,” the letter states.

Walz agreed in August to pay a $10,000 fine for violations that occurred during construction of the planned $30 million facility that would convert manure and food waste into natural gas.

The company signed a consent order with requirements that included submitting a plan to the DNR showing how much stormwater they have and how they plan to use it. The DNR also ordered Walz to dispose of waste construction materials that aren’t under a roof, repair storage basins and pump water out of those basins and apply it to land.

Some of those fixes have not yet been made, Joe Sanfilippo, supervisor for the DNR’s Manchester field office, said Friday.

Walz Energy successfully argued in July the Iowa DNR should not refer the case to the Iowa Attorney General’s Office, which could pursue penalties of up to $5,000 per day, per violation for National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit holders.

Walz representatives at the July hearing pledged reform.

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“We’re not here to say no violations have occurred,” said Eldon McAfee, a Des Moines attorney representing Walz Energy. “They have occurred. We regret those violations.”

Northeast Iowa residents have been concerned since early 2017 about the proposed feedlot and biogas facility because of its proximity to Bloody Run Creek and because the site has karst topography, which is porous and allows pollutants to seep into groundwater.

In April 2017, the DNR told Walz Energy a stormwater discharge permit would be required because Bloody Run is designated an Outstanding Iowa Water.

l Comments: (319) 339-3157; erin.jordan@thegazette.com

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