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Cavel to appeal district's wastewater fines

Published: Wednesday, May 16, 2007 12:00 a.m. CDT

DeKALB - Cavel International will appeal fines placed on the plant by the DeKalb Sanitary District for violating limits of the contents of wastewater treated by the district, and apparently hopes to link back up the to the district in the future. Cavel, the only horse-slaughtering facility still operating in the United States, will be appealing two sets of fines that were levied by the district after the facility incurred several violations of an industrial discharge permit granted by the district. One fine is for $25,500 for violations between October 2006 and March of this year. Another fine of $55,000 was charged to the plant for violations the happened in April, during which the plant incurred the maximum fine from the district at $1,000 per violation. &#8220When the plant first reopened in 2004, we fined a nominal amount,” said Mike Zima, district manager for the sanitary district. &#8220But they have progressed as time has gone by.” The DeKalb Sanitary District Board of Trustees met Monday evening to discuss Cavel's appeal of fines. The board agreed to give the plant a chance to plead their case, which is in accordance with the district's ordinances. &#8220We have a procedure in our ordinance for appeals and we have to follow it,” said Trustee Carol Zar. &#8220They are entitled to due process.” District staff and trustees Dennis Collins and Tim Struthers agreed with Zar's assertion. Representatives from Cavel had told the district in January that the plant would be in compliance with the regulations of their wastewater permit by the end of March. The district decided to test Cavel's wastewater on a daily basis during the month of March to give them enough data to work within the confines of the district's permit, according to Zima. &#8220The plant was not in compliance by the end of March,” said Zima. Cavel had disconnected from the sanitary district in late April, and has been hauling away wastewater in tanker trucks. On May 1, a federal appeals court came to a split decision about inspections at horse-slaughtering facilities, and pending a final decision, the plant was allowed to temporarily resume operations. At the board meeting, Zima said after speaking with Cavel plant manager and attorneys that they would eventually want to link back up with the sanitary district system. Zima said he felt the plant should be completely in compliance with terms of their permit, and suggested the plant should have to apply for an entirely new permit to reconnect. Representatives from the plant agreed that they would not inquire about reconnecting until they were in compliance with the district, according to Zima. &#8220I don't see why they should be allowed to reconnect when they are not within the boundaries,” said Zima. Keith Foster, attorney for the district, said he also got the impression that the plant wished to reconnect eventually, but said the district would have to examine the plant's existing permit to see if it has been nullified. &#8220We should investigate that and prepare for it,” said Collins. Citizens opposed to horse slaughtering attended the meeting. Angela Valianos said the district should consider that Cavel has been fined more than any other business that holds an industrial permit with the district. Jules St. John wanted to know who oversees waste hauling on roadways in tanker trucks, similar to Cavel has done. Collins and Zima said waste hauled away is not under the district's jurisdiction, but suggested people can contact the Illinois Department of Transportation, since the trucks travel on state roads. Cavel manager Jim Tucker declined to comment about the appeals or about the plant's possible intention to reconnect to the sanitary district. The board will hear Cavel's appeal at 5 p.m. May 29 during a public meeting. Benji Feldheim can be reached at bfeldheim@daily-chronicle.com.

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