Environment Montana Research & Policy Center
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KTVH News
By
Jon Stepanek

BILLINGS – Montana businesses are getting away with dumping chemicals into the Yellowstone River, a conservation group says in a new report.

The group reviewed federal Clean Water Act compliance data from January 2016 through September 2017 and found processing facilities, including the Western Sugar Plant in Billings, dumped excessive pollution beyond legal limits.

Environment Montana is upset no one is holding the companies accountable.

“All Montana waterways should be clean for swimming, drinking water, and wildlife,” said Skye Borden, director of Environment Montana. “But industrial polluters are still dumping chemicals that threaten our health and environment, and no one is holding them accountable.”

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s ICIS database, Western Sugar Cooperative discharged pollutants in excess of its permit limits 56 times into the Yellowstone River.

The Billings facility was one of top 20 offenders nationwide, according to Environment Montana.

Montana Department of Environmental Quality Public Information Officer Jeni Garcin told Q2 News that DEQ has taken enforcement action against Western Sugar over the effluent violations. Western Sugar is currently under order to pay stipulated penalties and upgrade their wastewater system.

A Western Sugar representative did not return a request for comment from Q2 News.

According to the Troubled Waters report, the nation’s major industrial facilities discharged pollution in excess of their permits at least 8,148 times.