RWQCB rescinds $1.5 million fine

cooling pond in williamsThe Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board (RWQCB) attempted to levy a $1.5 million fine against Morning Star in February 2016. Alleging that the processing factory in Williams, CA violated wastewater laws and completed an unauthorized expansion of wastewater ponds, the RWQCB repeatedly claimed that Morning Star’s actions were “egregious” in nature.

Morning Star immediately contested the fine, as well as the allegations that it had failed to inform the RWQCB about expanding its facility in Williams. Morning Star’s councel submitted a Public Records Act request in order to obtain all pertinent RWQCB files.

During the course of discovery, Morning Star’s councel found a report written by a staff member of the RWQCB which described a meeting where Morning Star laid out its plans for a plant expansion as well as increasing the size of the cooling pond.

In direct conflict with this written document was an affidavit signed by the same RWQCB staff member, stating that the Board had no knowledge of any expansion plans. The original report, critical to Morning Star’s defense, was inexplicably not included in the report conclusions presented by the compliance officer and Prosecution Team during the 2016 hearing.

On February 23, 2017 the RWQCB held a hearing and officially rescinded the $1.5 million penalty.

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