OTHELLO -- McCain Foods in Othello has agreed to pay a $40,000 fine as part of a settlement agreement with the Washington Department of Ecology over violations of the plant's air quality permit.
The violations are related to the use of an electrostatic precipitator that controls emissions from the potato fryers.
The company is required to install and use an electrostatic precipitator to control emissions from two potato fryers at the plant. The equipment uses electricity to remove fine particulate matter, such as dust and smoke, from the fryers.
McCain failed to conduct required testing to determine the amount of emissions from the potato fryers in 2004 and 2009, according to the state. The test was required every five years to make sure the electrostatic precipitator equipment is operating properly and that particle emissions are not exceeding the amount allowed by the company's air quality permit.
When the testing was conducted in November 2010 and April 2011, the amount of particulate matter coming from the electrostatic precipitator stack was more than the state's permit allowed, according to the state. The company found operating problems with the equipment and the exhaust stack and made corrections, according to the state.
Additional testing after repairs in October 2011 showed McCain was in compliance with permit emission limits after being out of compliance for many months, according to the state. Maintenance procedures were updated to ensure there is no recurrence of these problems, according to the state.
"We recognize that we failed to perform the required testing, but we have renewed our commitment to comply with emission limits in our plant permit," plant manager Ray Cooper said in a statement.
"We'll be carefully following all of our permit conditions so we can continue to be the good neighbors we've always been," he said.