The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality has fined a Hermiston company $29,534 for operating a fruit and vegetable storage facility without the necessary water pollution control permit.
Carter & Wyatt Holdings LLC was issued the fine in September, and has requested an informal meeting with DEQ to possibly appeal the violation.
The business, located at 78227 Highway 207, takes fruit and vegetable byproducts and sells them to markets such as animal feed for dairies and feedlots across the country. Luke Dynes, who owns the plant, said it keeps around 1.6 million tons of food out of landfills every year.
DEQ, however, claims the facility needs to have a water pollution control permit since the material is high in nitrogen and may pose a risk to groundwater quality — especially within the Lower Umatilla Basin Groundwater Management Area.
In addition to the fine, DEQ ordered the plant immediately stop receiving vegetables and dispose of all materials from the site within 30 days. Carson Bowler, a Portland attorney representing Carter & Wyatt Holdings, said they are in discussions with DEQ on a resolution, but did not offer details.
The incident that led to the citation occurred on May 26, when a tanker truck discharged vegetable slurry about 3 feet deep into an unlined pit in the ground at the facility, according to DEQ. The same day, DEQ reported there were liquids pooled and flowing across the ground at the facility.
Bowler described what happened May 26 as a “one-time event” and an “anomaly.”
Dynes, who is a member of Carter & Wyatt Holdings, said the plant opened in 2013, providing value-added products while also helping to protect the environment. As a Hermiston native and local business owner, he said the company strives to be responsible and actively involved in the community.
“This is our home,” he said. “This is where we support everybody.”