Gainesville Public Utilities Department Director Kelly Randall said fewer companies were cited this year than previously for noncompliance with federal wastewater regulations.
“The industrial pretreatment program is governed by state and federal law,” he said. “One of the items in the federal law basically says if somebody is in significant noncompliance, and there’s a definition in there, you have to at the end of the year put it in the newspaper.”
“This was a pretty light year. Normally there’s around six to eight companies listed, or even 10,” he added.
The four companies, Lawson Trucking, Pilgrims Pride Corp., PrimePak Foods and Victory Foods, were cited for noncompliance between December 2012 and November 2013.
Randall said the wording of the announcement, required by state and federal regulations to be publicly posted, makes the violations sound more alarming than they are.
“It’s not like these violations cause any sort of immediate upset at our plant,” he said. “It’s an issue if everybody out there started discharging at a stronger level than they were permitted to, ultimately it would build up at our plant and cause a problem.”
An industry could be out of compliance on any given day, he said.
Kevin Lawson, a terminal manager at Lawson Trucking, said the citation stemmed from testing residual amounts of fats, oils and grease, and the nearly year-old violation was resolved immediately with a replaced grease interceptor.
“You have to get in compliance right away; they don’t give you any time, which is correct,” he said.
Intentionally dumping fats, oils and greases would actually be a bad business move, beyond the fines for a violation, he said.
“People pay us to pick up that product from us,” he said. “We try to save it all. I have it set up to where I don’t want any of it to go to the city ... we make money off of picking it up.”
One group cited, Pilgrims Pride Cor., is known to discharge wastewaster that is “almost too clean for us,” Randall said.
“These people are good corporate citizens doing a good job,” he said. “They were in violation; they were fined; they resolved the issue. One way to put it is it’s sort of part of the business.”