Food processing

Food processing plant accused of polluting local waterways

Hanover Foods Corporation is accused of discharging dangerous levels of pollutants from its sewage treatment facility in Hanover, York County.

YORK COUNTY, Pennsylvania – A food processor in York County is under intense scrutiny by state and federal environmental agencies. Hanover Foods Corporation is accused of discharging dangerous levels of pollutants from its sewage treatment facility in Hanover, York County.

The United States Environmental Protection Agency issued an administrative consent order against the company to identify a cause and resolve the issue.

Records indicate that the company may have been aware of the alleged violations. FOX43 reveals how it allegedly polluted local waterways for years.

Oil Creek in York County is a source of water for livestock, sometimes used for irrigation by nearby farmers, and runs through several communities. However, the waterway may have been quietly polluted hundreds of times over the years. Hanover Foods Corporation is accused of dumping sewage that was not properly treated into the creek.

“This affects water quality in Oil Creek, downstream of Codorus Creek and ultimately in the Susquehanna River,” said Ted Evgeniadis, executive director of the Lower Susquehanna Riverkeeper Association.

Evgeniadis noticed pollution from a weir in the creek and took legal action against the company to fix the problem. The Lower Susquehanna Riverkeeper Association is represented by the Environmental Integrity Project, and the lawsuit contains hundreds of pages of documents outlining potential water pollution violations.

“I was in the creek. You can see seaweed and scum on the rocks. You can see suspended solids. I actually saw a rainbow trout that appeared to have some discoloration, so there was pollution present at the site,” Evgeniadis said.

FOX43 reveals that between May 2016 and June 2021, Hanover Foods released dangerous levels of contaminants into the creek, at times 1,456% higher than the company’s permit allows. Records show that the company’s wastewater treatment facility discharged high levels of ammonia nitrogen, total suspended solids and fecal coliforms. Evgeniadis said water quality in Oil Creek is deteriorating downstream.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is taking legal action demanding that Hanover Foods conduct a study to determine the cause and identify ways to correct these alleged water pollution violations.

“The number of alleged violations observed during inspections is appalling,” said Adam Ortiz, regional administrator for EPA Mid-Atlantic. “The company needs to identify why this happened and come up with a plan to address this issue so that the local waters that eventually feed into the Chesapeake Bay are protected.”

During inspections at the sewage treatment plant, the agency noted that a digester – which breaks down food waste – had “operated in less than optimal conditions”. EPA inspectors also noted several warning lights that would have alerted the company to potentially failing UV lamps.

FOX43 Reveals has made repeated calls to Hanover Foods. None of our messages have been returned.

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection has filed several lawsuits over the years against Hanover Foods for similar violations. The company has until April 5 to submit a technical assessment to the EPA and present a corrective action plan to fix the problem.

The Lower Susquehanna Riverkeeper Association and Hanover Foods filed a joint motion to stay litigation pending release of the corrective action plan.

“There’s actually a lot of pollution coming out of this factory and we’re going to make sure they’re held accountable to fix it,” Evgeniaidis said.

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