The general manager of Setton Pistachios said the company has taken care of its responsibility and was glad to do so after the announcement Setton has been ordered to pay to pay a $221,440 fine by the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board over the odors that has come from its plant's wastewater pond in Terra Bella.
“Everything has been resolved,” said Lee Cohen, the plant's general manager. Cohen said the fine goes back to what was happening in 2018 and not for what's happening now at the plant, adding the process has taken years to complete.
In 2020 the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board issued a cease and desist order over the matter. The order called for the elimination of the odors.
“We want dischargers to understand that when they do not comply with our requirements there are significant penalties,” the board’s assistant executive officer, Clay Rodgers, said in a statement.
But Cohen said Setton has always been willing to work with the water board and all agencies involved. “We're happy to work with the water board on this,” he said.
Of the 221,440 of the fine, $133, 204.73 will be paid to the State Water Resources Control Board for cleanup and abatement. The remaining $88,235.37 will be used to install air scrubbers at Carl Smith Middle School in Terra Bella and Terra Bella Elementary School.
Last summer the Tulare County Board of Supervisors approved Setton's plan to expand its facility in Terra Bella. The projects called for the installation of 24 silos and other equipment for the processing and storage of pistachios.
Included in the project to deal with objectionable odors from the plant, there's the construction of a pipeline designed to significantly increase the land area for wastewater to reduce the amount of wastewater stored in existing ponds.
Cohen admitted the process to deal with the odor has been an arduous one. He noted one part of the project took nine months to complete. “It's things like that that cause significant delays,” he said. “Certainly not the company's inaction.”
Cohen added Setton has always tried to do what's right for the community of Terra Bella. “We're obviously a very proud community member,” he said.