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State fines Chang Farm for discharges 

  • Sidney Chang, vice president of the Chang Farm in Whately stands in front of the loading dock of the new building expanding the farms productivitySTORY09/8/5 MacDonald

  • Chang Farm on River Road in Whately, not far from Mount Sugarloaf. Recorder Staff/Andy Castillo RECORDER STAFF/ANDY CASTILLO—ANDY CASTILLO

  • Chang Farm on River Road in Whately, not far from Mount Sugarloaf. Recorder Staff/Andy Castillo RECORDER STAFF/ANDY CASTILLO—ANDY CASTILLO

  • Chang Farm on River Road in Whately, not far from Mount Sugarloaf. RECORDER STAFF/ANDY CASTILLO

  • Chang Farm on River Road in Whately, not far from Mount Sugarloaf. RECORDER STAFF/ANDY CASTILLO

  • Chang Farm on River Road in Whately, not far from Mount Sugarloaf. Recorder Staff/Andy Castillo RECORDER STAFF/ANDY CASTILLO—ANDY CASTILLO



For the Bulletin
Thursday, July 07, 2016

WHATELY — Chang Farm has been slapped with a state fine for violation of water pollution regulations.

Last May, the sprout farm agreed to pay $78,000 to settle a federal lawsuit over similar wastewater discharge permits issues over a span of five years. The suit was filed in U.S. District Court by the Greenfield-based Connecticut River Watershed Council.

In the June 29 action, the state Department of Environmental Protection issued a $16,500 penalty against Chang and Son Enterprise Inc. “for violations of wastewater discharge permit limits and other operating requirements at the (River Road) farm’s process water and wastewater treatment plant.”

The sprout farm’s treated wastewater is discharged into the Connecticut River, which is allowed up to a specific limit.

Katherine Skiba, regional spokeswoman for MassDEP, said the farm on River Road exceeded the amount of wastewater it was permitted to discharge.

“Other violations were failing to maintain equipment,” she said, “and they didn’t have certified operators on their staff.”

Neither a representative from Chang Farm nor the Connecticut River Watershed Council could immediately be reached for comment.

The penalty is also for faults in monthly reporting and poor monitoring of the wastewater treatment plant by the farm.

During an August 2015 inspection of water quality reports submitted by Chang, as well as an in-person inspection of the farm’s wastewater treatment plant, a release notes that Department of Environmental Protection staff documented “repeated exceedances of permit discharge limits for Biological Oxygen Demand, flow and suspended solids.”

Biological Oxygen Demand refers to the amount of oxygen it takes to break down organic material in water.

“We as a regulating authority review those reports,” Skiba said. “They had an order in 2013, and they met some of them, but not all.”

The farm has a long history of compliance issues that date back almost 10 years, according to a permit issued in 2013 by the EPA.

As part of the penalty, the farm must evaluate its current procedures, come up with a plan to resolve the problems, make sure staff members are properly trained and update monitoring equipment.

Pending those requirements, the state has agreed to suspend $6,500 of the penalty. Skiba said the suspension was agreed to, at least in part, because the farm will have to pay a significant amount of money in order to meet regulations.

“They have deadlines they have to meet, they have agreed to that, and we anticipate they’ll cooperate,” Skiba said.