Owners of a Prince Edward Island potato-washing facility are facing a $1,000 fine after a wastewater discharge spanning some 500 metres overflowed from one of its lagoons on December 26.
A resident in the small P.E.I. village of New Annan discovered and reported the whitish grey potato-smelling discharge from P.E.I. Potato Solutions, which ended up flowing into the headwaters of the Barbara Weit River.
Potato operations produce farm wastewater during both the washing process and use of water-filled flumes to move potatoes during handling. The effluent contains suspended solids from soil and organic debris from spoiled potatoes.
The provincial Department of Environment, Water and Climate Change began to investigate the overflow and issued a warning under Section 21 of the Environmental Protection Act, for failing to notify the department about a discharge of a contaminant. Later, the company was fined under section 20(a) of the Environmental Protection Act, for discharging a contaminant.
Provincial environment officials directed the pre-processing facility to stop the flow of wastewater from the lagoons and remove any wastewater from ditches around its property.
P.E.I. Potato Solutions management indicated to media that rain may have led to overflows in its lagoons. However, management added that it intends to transfer its operations in the coming months to a new facility that would not require the wastewater lagoons. The new facility would allow workers to recycle any wastewater produced at the new pre-processing facility, according to media reports.
The potato industry contributes over $1.3 billion annually to the economy of Prince Edward Island.