Nature’s Path fined $22,000 for disposing acidic wastewater into Blaine sewer system

An organic food producer has been fined $22,000 for disposing acidic wastewater into the city’s sewer treatment system, the Washington State Department of Ecology said Tuesday.

Nature’s Path, a Richmond, B.C.-based company that makes organic granola, cookies and cereal, made 39 violations over the last two years at its Blaine facility, Ecology said.

The company’s water quality permit states it must pretreat its wastewater before disposing it into the sewer to avoid dumping acidic water, which can damage sewer lines and cause health hazards for sewer plant workers, Ecology said. The department found out about the violations from discharge-monitoring reports the company had filed.

The $22,000 penalty comes with an order that Nature’s Path comply with Ecology’s rules on pH, which measures water acidity.

In a statement released through Ecology, Peter Dierx, vice president of operations at Nature’s Path, said the company used to transport its wastewater off-site before it began sending it to the city’s treatment plant. The change, he added, made for a “learning curve” in complying with Ecology’s pH limits.

“The health of the environment is always a priority at Nature’s Path,” Dierx’s statement said. “We will continue to work with Ecology and the city of Blaine to ensure we are compliant.”

The company has 30 days to appeal the penalty.

Kyle Mittan: 360-756-2803, @KyleMittan