Energy & Environment

Ag company fined $40,000 for late reports on toxic chemicals in Swanton

Cargill Malt in Sheboygan, Wisconsin. Courtesy Creative Commons

One of the country’s largest agricultural companies twice filed late reports with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for toxic chemicals it processed at an animal feed facility in Swanton, the agency said. 

Cargill Inc., which operates Cargill Feed and Nutrition on Jonergin Drive, agreed to pay the EPA $40,294 in a settlement announced this week

The EPA said Cargill violated the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act, which requires companies that use certain chemicals to report their usage to the government each year under a program called Toxic Release Inventory.

In 2018, Cargill processed more than 25,000 pounds of zinc and manganese compounds, amounts high enough to require federal reporting, according to the settlement. Cargill was required to file toxic release forms by July 1, 2019, but did not do so until June 8, 2020.

“​​When a company fails to submit TRI reports, that data is not available to the public,” an EPA spokesperson wrote in an email. “Information about releases that occurred several years ago is not as useful to communities looking to understand and assess current risks.”

Zinc and manganese are essential nutrients in small amounts, but they can be toxic in large concentrations. High zinc exposure may cause nausea and fatigue, while high manganese exposure may lead to neurological issues

A Cargill spokesperson wrote in an email that zinc and manganese are used at the facility as additions to the animal feed.

“We are pleased to have resolved this single, filing issue at one of our animal feed facilities,” the spokesperson wrote, “and continue to enhance our compliance and reporting processes.”

Cargill, which is based in Minnesota, is the largest private company in the country and one of the largest in the agricultural, livestock and processed foods sectors.

This is not the first time the company has run afoul of the EPA.

In 2005, Cargill settled with the federal government, 10 states and four counties for underestimating the emissions from its operations across the country. The company was required to install air pollution control devices, pay a $1.6 million civil penalty and spend $3.5 million on environmental projects. 

Editor’s note: This story was updated to include a response from Cargill, which did not arrive until after initial publication.

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Shaun Robinson

About Shaun

Shaun Robinson is a Report for America corps member with a special focus on issues of importance to Franklin and Grand Isle counties. He is a journalism graduate of Boston University, with a minor in political science. His work has appeared in the Boston Globe, the Patriot Ledger of Quincy and the Cape Cod Times.

Email: [email protected]

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