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EPA Fines 9 Idaho Communities, Businesses

Feds say violators dirty Gem State air, water

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Attention, Caldwell residents. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has its eye on you. In particular, it's worried about your water. In December 2011, the City of Caldwell was placed on the EPA's watch list for "unacceptably high levels of nitrogen and ammonia registered in the city's water."

"I have no idea what you're talking about," Gary Shoemaker, Caldwell's Water Department director told Citydesk at the time. "I'm not sure why we would be on that list."

But Shoemaker's department received a fine June 11 for what the EPA said were even more problems at the Canyon County wastewater treatment plant. Caldwell was fined $11,000 for violations of the Clean Water Act for discharge of solids and ammonia.

In fact, another Caldwell business, Rhodes International--maker of frozen cinnamon rolls--had an ammonia problem of its own earlier this year. Rhodes was slapped with an $84,484 fine for "failure to properly report the storage of ammonia" at its Canyon County facility. Agency officials said Rhodes failed to notify local, state or federal officials that it was storing anhydrous ammonia at its facility, a chemical that attacks the skin, eyes, throat and lungs, according to the EPA.

The City of Wilder's wastewater treatment facility was also recently cited by the EPA and fined $3,100 for its own violations of the Clean Water Act, for what feds said were improper discharges of E.coli and chlorine.

The EPA fined six other Idaho locations in its second quarter of 2012, including:

$51,000 fine against the Idaho Department of Correction for violating the Clean Water Act at its North Idaho Correctional Institution in Cottonwood;

$15,000 fine against Fish Breeders of Idaho's catfish aquaculture facility in Buhl for exceeding its phosphorous discharge limits;

$4,260 fine against Brewster West, a cheese processing facility in Rupert, for violating the Clean Air Act;

$3,000 fine against City Service Valcon for spilling 950 gallons of fuel in Idaho County in April;

$1,000 fine against the City of Culdesac for violating the Clean Water Act; and

$694 fine against the tiny Clearwater County town of Ahsahka for violating the Clean Water Act.

The EPA notes when laws are broken, "it puts people's health at risk. Those who don't comply with the laws also gain an unfair business advantage over those who have invested in pollution controls."

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