Wednesday, June 20, 2001/lk
POLK COUNTY -- Meduri Farms has been fined $92,000 for allegedy letting wastewater from its processing operation seep into Baskett Slough.
The fine comes from the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality.
DEQ investigators say wastewater from the company's fruit procoessing plant at 12395 Dyck Road was running into ditches along the side of the road.
From there, it allegedly flowed into the wetlands of the nearby wildlife refuge.
The wastewater drains the oxygen in the water, ultimately hurting the Canada dusky geese and other wildlife that depend on the wetlands.
The $92,000 is actually two fines in one. The first is for $86,838 for polluting state waters. Included in that is $77,238 plant operators saved by not disposing of the wastewater properly.
Another $6,000 is for failure to allow a DEQ investigator to inspect the plant in March.
Joe Meduri, president of Meduri Farms, said he plans to appeal the fines. He has until July 1 to file an appeal.
DEQ investigators didn't consider all factors, he said.
Meduri said the discharge happened after a fire destroyed a fruit-drying building in March.
DEQ officials are considering fines against another Meduri Farm plant for treatment of wastewater.
This is not the first time the operation has been fined.
In 1997, the company was fined $7,866 for discharging wastewater from its cherry processing into the refuge without a permit.
Meduri didn't appeal that fine. He agreed to make monthly payments and got the necessary permits for waste water from DEQ.
Some of Meduri's neighbors out near Baskett Slough have complained to the Polk County Planning Commission about Meduri's having a commercial operation in a farm zone. They've also complained that the cherry processing operation is having a negative effect on farmland near the Meduri property as well as on the Meduri property itself.
Meduri benefits from a grandfather clause that allows his operation to continue.
Meduri just submitted plans to the DEQ to build a 3-million-gallon waste water holding pond. DEQ officials said Meduri must also file plans for an irrigation system.