On Tuesday, the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality issued a $127,800 fine to a Hermiston potato processing plant for repeated wastewater violations that contaminated the groundwater in nearby communities. According to the regulators, Lamb Weston violated its wastewater permit 90 times and dumped more than 200 tons of nitrate pollution into the soil.
Lamb Weston’s Hermiston facility, produces about 750 million pounds of French fries annually. It violated its wastewater permit 90 times from 2015 through 2021 and added approximately 224 tons of excess nitrate to nearby farmland, according to the Department. It also cited the facility for a separate spill of almost 25,000 gallons of industrial wastewater into soil near the processing plant.
Morrow and Umatilla counties are already burdened with groundwater contamination, and groundwater is the primary drinking source for county residents.