EPA Reaches Settlement with a Montague, Mass. Food Manufacturing Company for Clean Water Act Pretreatment Violations

BOSTON (December 20, 2021) – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has reached a settlement with Greenleaf Foods, SPC (also known as Lightlife Foods) to address alleged violations of the Clean Water Act pretreatment regulations by its soy-based food production facility in Montague, Massachusetts.

Clean Water Act pretreatment regulations require industries to ensure that wastewater discharges into a municipal sewer system do not damage the collection system or inhibit/bypass treatment at the municipal wastewater treatment facility. As a result of EPA’s settlement, Lightlife Foods has installed a wastewater pretreatment system that is now achieving compliance with the pretreatment regulations and has agreed to pay a $252,000 penalty to resolve claims that the company discharged low-pH wastewaters into the Town of Montague’s sewer collection system.

“EPA’s settlement with Lightlife Foods has ensured that wastewater discharges leaving their facility are no longer damaging the Town of Montague’s wastewater infrastructure,” said EPA New England Acting Regional Administrator Deb Szaro. “The Clean Water Act allows EPA to protect our critical infrastructure and waterways, and cases like these highlight that mission.”

Lightlife Foods soaks soybeans in lactic acid to prepare its products and uses acidic cleaners to sanitize its equipment. Wastewaters including these acids are discharged to the sewer system. Discharge of low-pH wastewaters to sewers is prohibited under the Clean Water Act pretreatment regulations because of the potential to corrode piping. Sewer pipe corrosion can cause disruptions in service, leakage of raw sewage to ground and surface waters, require the replacement of sewer lines and pumping stations, and create a dangerous environment for sewer workers. Lightlife Foods’ new wastewater pretreatment system controls the pH of the wastewater that the facility discharges into the Montague municipal sewer system.

This action reflects EPA’s commitment to support municipalities’ efforts to implement industrial pretreatment programs with the goals of protecting infrastructure and reducing pollutant releases to the environment.

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