DEQ issues $6,777 civil penalty to Ninkasi

EUGENE, Ore. - The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality issued a $6,777 civil penalty to Ninkasi Holding Company for stormwater discharge monitoring violations, the state agency said Monday in a press release.

Ninkasi CEO Nikos Ridge said the company does not plan to appeal the fine.

"We forgot to submit the paperwork for a year," he said. "Now we have a third-party company to monitor that for us so it shouldn't be an issue going forward."

Ridge said the penalty is administrative. The company neglected to file reports on time, but nothing harmful is in the stormwater leaving the property.

"The issue is we didn't submit the paperwork that we are required to under the permit because we forgot about it," he said.

In a letter dated February 9, the agency told the company the penalty is "for failing to monitor your stormwater discharge for benchmark levels of acidity (pH levels), total suspended solids, oil and grease, copper, lead and zinc, as well as impairment pollutant levels (including arsenic and iron)."

The violations took place between July 1, 2014, and June 30, 2015 at the brewer's Blair Boulevard and Polk Street operations.

DEQ said Ninkasis did not take enough - and in some cases, any - of the stormwater samples required under a permit issued to the company in January 2013.

"DEQ issued this penalty because fulfilling the mandatory monitoring and reporting conditions of your stormwater discharge permit is an important obligation. Without monitoring, your company, DEQ and the public are unable to evaluate the effectiveness of your stormwater controls in protecting water quality and public health," Leah K. Feldon, manager of the DEQ Office of Compliance and Enforcement, wrote in a letter to Ninkasi. "DEQ is particularly concerned because you have previously received a request for correction action to monitor pH levels at your facility."

Ridge said the company works with the City of Eugene, DEQ and other agencies to handle its production discharge. That includes a pretreatment plant for wastewater.

The citation from the state involved stormwater reporting.

Ninkasi has a history of publicly supporting clean water-related initiatives, including partnerships with the McKenzie River Trust and the Eugene Water & Electric Board.

This is a developing story. This story will be updated.

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