BOARDMAN — Oregon environmental regulators issued a $2,400 penalty to ConAgra Foods Lamb Weston for emitting too much pollution at its potato processing plant at 750 N.E. Columbia Ave., Boardman. The company is looking at an environmental project to cover most of the fine.

The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality in a written statement on May 23 reported the ConAgra’s air contaminant discharge permit limits emissions of particulate matter less than 2.5 microns in size to no more than nine tons per year on a rolling 12-month calendar. ConAgra’s rolling average between June 2014 and April 2015, though, ranged between 9.96 and 10.96 tons.

“Particulate matter can contribute to respiratory distress and cause serious health problems including decreased lung function, irregular heartbeat and chronic bronchitis,” according to the DEQ.

ConAgra Foods had until May 19 to appeal the penalty. Jenny Root, environmental law specialist with the DEQ, reported ConAgra did not file an appeal, and rather than pay the $2,400, the company “intends to perform a supplemental environmental project to mitigate a portion of the penalty.”

The environmental department allows offenders to spend up to 80 percent of a penalty amount on a project that protects public health or improves the environment. “ConAgra is working on selecting a project, and that project will have to be approved by DEQ.” Root said in an email.

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