Thursday, August 2, 2001
DALLAS -- Just a month after getting slapped with a fine from the Department of Environmental Quality, Meduri Farms is in trouble again.
Owner Joe Meduri is being fined $11,800 by the DEQ for letting wastewater from one of his cherry processing plants leak into Rickreall Creek.
Most of the fine -- $10,000 -- is for polluting the water. The other $1,800 is for not telling DEQ officials about the problem.
The fine concerns Meduri's cherry processing plant at 700 N. Fir Villa Road in Dallas.
Robert Dicksa, a natural resource specialist with the DEQ, said Meduri applied too much of the wastewater from his facility to the property.
It seeped into neighboring farmers' land and, through a series of private streams, into Rickreall Creek.
Last month, Meduri was hit with a $92,000 fine for allegedy letting wastewater from his other processing operation, at 12395 Dyck Road, seep into Baskett Slough.
DEQ investigators say wastewater was running into ditches along the side of the road.
From there, it flowed into the wetlands of the nearby wildlife refuge.
Orange-colored wastewater accumulated on the pond banks, investigators said. The wastewater drains the oxygen in the water, ultimately hurting the Canada dusky geese and other wildlife that depend on the wetlands.
Like the latest fine, 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.
Meduri has appealed the fines. A date has not been set for a hearing.
DEQ investigators didn't consider all factors, Meduri said.
Meduri said the discharge happened after a fire destroyed a fruit-drying building in March.
Meduri Farms has a history of fines.
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.
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.