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U.S. EPA issues wastewater injection permit to Hilmar Cheese

Release Date: 01/10/2006
Contact Information: Wendy Chavez, 415-947-4248

Permit allows Hilmar to drill one test well, conduct testing

SAN FRANCISCO – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency yesterday issued a permit to Hilmar Cheese in the Central Valley to drill an underground injection test well as a first step in determining whether the facility will be allowed to pump processed wastewater into the ground from its North Lander Avenue plant.

The permit will require Hilmar to monitor several parameters within the aquifer while the company conducts injection testing. Whether the EPA will authorize injection at this site, and what volume of waste injection may be authorized, depends upon the test results.

"We are committed to finding solutions for wastewater disposal that meet the Regional Water Quality Control Board and EPA requirements," said Alexis Strauss, director of the Water Division for the Pacific Southwest region. "This initial test well is necessary to determine whether some portion of Hilmar’s wastewater can be safely and effectively disposed into the deep subsurface.””

Hilmar could drill up to four injection wells if results from the test well demonstrate sufficient injection capacity. All wells would be located on property near the North Lander Avenue facility.

The EPA permit requires construction consisting of a thick cement outer casing, metal interior casing around the injection piping, and fill cement in the space between the casings. The dimensions of the proposed well will be 10 inches at the outer casing down to the five-inch injection pipe.

Hilmar Cheese applied for an underground injection permit to dispose of up to 2.2 million gallons of non-hazardous, treated wastewater created by its cheese manufacturing plant each day. If ultimately authorized, this permit would allow Hilmar to inject the treated wastewater into a saline aquifer located between 3,350 and 4,150 feet below the ground.

A public comment period that ran from Aug. 2 to Sept. 30 on the permit generated comments from 10 parties. The public may review the EPA’s response to the comments at:

For more information about the Underground Injection Control program, go to:

The permit issued to Hilmar may be viewed online at:

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