Company pays penalty, lowers emissions after permit violation

By Holly Jessen | January 08, 2013

A 44 MMgy Cambridge, Neb., ethanol producer has agreed to pay a civil penalty of up to $12,000 after a June 2010 test showed it violated its Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality permit.

Since then, Nebraska Corn Processing LLC has invested in significant upgrades to its emissions equipment, which has resulted in lowering its volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions by more than 80 percent. Testing in 2011 and 2012 showed the ethanol plant was well within its permitted limits for VOC emissions, the company said in a press release.

According to court documents, Nebraska Corn Processing is required to pay $6,000 of the $12,000 penalty within 10 days of the Dec. 31 filing date. The remainder may be waived, as long as the company “maintains compliance with and does not violate any provisions of its air quality permit or of the Nebraska Environmental Protection Act pertaining to air pollution or any rules or regulations pertaining to air pollution” for 180 days after Dec. 31.

The initial test was completed not long after the company completed its acquisition of the facility and restarted it in March 2010. The facility was “originally constructed with inadequate equipment and sat idled for more than a year,” the company said in a press release.

Court documents show that Nebraska Corn Processing also voluntarily agreed to pay $12,000 to two Cambridge non-profit groups. Half is to be paid to the fire department of Cambridge “to be used for environmental safety, training, public awareness, equipment or other related used as permitted by state law” and the remainder to Cambridge Public High School “to be used for the development and construction of a greenhouse for the purposes of environmental education and environmental awareness,” court documents said.

Nebraska Corn Processing is a subsidiary of Michigan-based Zeeland Farm Services Inc., an agricultural and transportation company. The Cambridge facility, previously named Mid America Agri Products/Horizon LLC, was purchased at a December 2009 bankruptcy auction for $30.1 million.  Zeeland Farm Services also purchased an idle ethanol plant in Clearfield, Pa., and that sale was approved in U.S. Bankruptcy court in April. The facility, which is now operational, was renamed Pennsylvania Grain Processing LLC.