DEVILS LAKE, N.D. (AP) — The July shutdown of a straw pulp manufacturing and molding facility in Devils Lake has raised questions about who is going to clean up molding bales at the company's former site.
Ultra Green Packaging planned to use wheat straw to make recyclable materials, such as serving utensils, plates and bowls. The plant shut down three years after opening, and molding bales are piled behind the facility.
The mold that commonly grows on wheat is known as fusarium. The U.S. National Library of Medicine and National Institutes of Health say symptoms from exposure can include pneumonia and allergic disease.
Ultra Green Packaging had attempted to eliminate the mold problem by giving away the bales of straw, then by burning the material, the Devils Lake Journal reported (http://bit.ly/1OE1ZEp).
A letter dated Dec. 28 from North Dakota's Division of Waste Management to Ultra Green Chief Financial Officer Jon Peters addressed potential regulatory violations at the site. The letter said that according to complaints and "our investigation," there were "very large accumulations of moldy straw emitting odors, potentially causing or contributing to respiratory issues for nearby business owners and harboring rats."
The bales were "determined to be a trade waste," the letter said. It also said it "appears" Ultra Green Packaging "is in violation of the North Dakota Solid Waste Management Rules and may be subject to enforcement."
Steve Tillotson with the Division of Waste Management said for the material to be burned legally, a burn variance would have to be issued by the state.
"We wouldn't issue a burn variance because the material is within city limits," Tillotson said.
The city is currently in litigation with the company over the waste disposal cost and millions of dollars of incentives the city budgeted to lure Ultra Green to Devils Lake.
The newspaper's attempts to contact Peters weren't immediately returned.
Information from: Devils Lake Journal, http://www.devilslakejournal.com