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Why did the Hastings Creamery close?

Hastings Creamery losing access to city sewers after violating wastewater permit
Hastings Creamery losing access to city sewers after violating wastewater permit 01:12

HASTINGS, Minn. -- After 110 years in business, the Hastings Creamery was closed on Aug. 21 for several industrial waste violations. 

"The ongoing release of prohibited materials is putting the wastewater treatment plant in imminent danger and could compromise the health and safety of the Hastings community," said a statement from the Metropolitan Council, the entity that voted for the establishment's closure. 

Hastings Creamery losing access to city sewers after violating wastewater permit 01:12

According to a Notice of Violation from the Met Council, the creamery had received six notices of waste violations in seven months. This initially triggered the Met Council to cut off the creamery's access to the Hastings Wastewater Treatment Plant until improper waste discharge was resolved. 

This meant that the creamery had to find another way to dispose of the waste their milk processing was producing. The creamery — which was owned by four small farmers — struggled to find a solution for their waste problem, despite working with multiple state agencies, and ended up closing the operation.

Justin Malone, President of Hastings Creamery, confirmed it has ceased operations, citing "no permits from Met Council and the city of Hastings," per text.    

However, the impact of the closure may be more far reaching than water contamination. 

The creamery worked with farmers all over Minnesota and Wisconsin, processing 150,000 pounds of raw milk everyday. The closure sent these farmers into a scramble to find another manufacturer to send their raw dairy products to for processing. 

Hastings Creamery began as a butter manufacturer in 1913 and later began bottling milk in 1920. Fast forward to 2021,...

Posted by Hastings Creamery on Friday, February 3, 2023

The economic impact the closure may have on Hastings has been top of mind Sen. Judy Seeberger, who represents the area.

"After being open for 110 years, it's vital to find a path forward for the Creamery to reopen and continue its service to Minnesota farmers and the community," said Seeberger. "The Hastings Creamery is an institution for our community and is essential to processing dairy products from Minnesota farmers. Its closure is not just concerning, but potentially disastrous for our dairy industry."

Later in her statement, Seeberger as said that she was "in discussion with Commissioner Thom Petersen, Senate Agriculture Committee Chair Aric Putnam, and other partners in finding paths forward for the continued operation of the Creamery." 

The push to bring the creamery back online may have been detoured even more after a fire broke out at the building on Wednesday night. 

Firefighters continue hourslong battle with blaze at Hastings Creamery building 04:24

At one point, residents were told to take precautions as first responders were unsure if the air quality had been impacted by dangerous chemicals released due to the fire. 

RELATED: As fire burns at Hastings Creamery building, residents told to take precautions

However, by approximately 6:45 a.m. on Thursday, all air qualities alerts were cleared. According to WCCO's Pauleen Le, who was at the scene Thursday morning, the area is still struggling with lingering smoke. 

NOTE: The original air date for the video attached to this article is June 5, 2023. 

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