Potato processor in Center faces state violations

Running parallel to Highway 112 east of Center, the oft-smelly county line ditch is officially known as Outfall001A, the only outfall permitted for the Idaho-Pacific Colorado Corporation. Photo by Patrick Shea

CENTER— The Idaho-Pacific Colorado Corporation manufactures dehydrated potato products on the Rio Grande County side of Highway 112 south of Center, a process that has raised a stink with residents and a cease-and-desist order from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE).

Kelly Morgan, the Compliance and Enforcement Section Manager for CDPHE, served a Service of Notice of Violation-Cease and Desist Order to IPCC on June 13. IPCC officials received 30 days to admit or deny the Findings of Fact and respond to the Notice of Violation in the 13-page document.

The Colorado Water Quality Control Division has the authority to impose a penalty of up to $56,759 per day per violation and $10,000 a day for violations before July 2. The letter concludes with a note that ongoing investigations may uncover additional violations.

IPCC sorts, steam-peels, slices, cooks, mashes, and dehydrates potatoes to make flakes and flour. To dispose of waste, the company uses a combination of methods.

In addition to barrel screening, diffused air flotation, sequential batch reactors, settling, disk filtration, and ultraviolet light, IPCC diverts wastewater to the County Line Ditch on the south side of Highway 112. Especially during the summer months, the slow-moving muck reeks.

On Feb. 16, a Division Inspector interviewed staff, examined records, and inspected the facility to see if IPCC was in compliance with the terms and conditions of their permit. Four months later, the Division’s letter identified multiple violations and corrective actions for IPCC to take.

Under the Failure to Properly Monitor and Report section, the inspector noted multiple inaccuracies in IPCC’s Discharge Monitoring Reports (DMRs). Reports from June to July 2021 revealed improper averaging to calculate Biological Oxygen Demand (BODs), Total Dissolved Solids (TDS), and a Total Coliform count. The inspector also uncovered periods without reports, specifically IPCC’s failure to submit DMRs for February and March of this year.

Subsequent pages include multiple points under different categories — Invalid-Unrepresented Sample, Failure to Maintain Required Records, Failure to Comply with Permit Effluent Limitations, Improper Operation and Maintenance, Notice of Violation, and Required Corrective Action.

IPCC received 30 days to request a hearing or respond to the CDPHE letter.

In 2003, the company took over a potato dehydration facility that local farmers pioneered in 1998.

During one of their monthly meetings in 2019, Rio Grande County commissioners heard public comment from Center residents who couldn’t handle the smell any longer. Despite improvements, IPCC received a cease-and-desist order from CDPHE this year, and the ditch continues to stink.

 

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