If you have been following us for the last few months, you have probably read about Gevo Inc in Northwest Iowa.  Gevo has been working on a project here in Iowa that would take cattle manure and create power for cars in California.

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But in 2022, they have been in some hot water when 376,000 gallons of manure leaked from one of their manure digesters into a nearby creek after failing to properly seal the tank before filling it.

The liquid seeped into the ground where it made its way to a stormwater drainage system. The contaminated water then flowed into a crop field and into Lizard Creek

Documents from the DNR say Gevo did not have permission from the state to start pumping manure through the digester when it leaked into Lizard Creek and Mud Creek. A letter detailing the violation stated that the company didn’t submit construction certifications for the digesters.

A Gazette article referenced the consent order and stated that “when the liquid was first added to the digester, it was noted that the level dropped by five feet. No investigation was done at the time and then more liquid was added to the digester.”

As a result of the leak, Terry Van Maanen has been fined $10,000; which is the maximum amount the DNR can impose. Gevo has not been fined for the incident.

However, groups like the Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement told Iowa Public Radio that a $10,000 fine isn’t enough to discourage large operations from future spills.

The group pressed Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller to pick up the case so that higher charges could be placed on Gevo Inc and Van Maanen. However, after 350 emails Miller never did take the case.

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