Environmental groups threaten to sue Hanover Foods over alleged water violations

Tina Locurto
York Dispatch
Hanover Foods' Factory Outlet Store in Hanover Tuesday, July 6, 2021. Bill Kalina photo

A York County-based food processor is threatened with a lawsuit from two environmental organizations over alleged violations of state and federal water regulations.

Hanover Foods Corp. has 60 days to respond to a letter of intent filed by the Environmental Integrity Project on behalf of the Lower Susquehanna Riverkeeper Association, alleging that the food company has routinely discharged pollutants into Oil Creek in Penn Township. 

The company is in violation of its National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit, in addition to failing to comply with monitoring and reporting requirements, said Ted Evgeniadis, the executive director of LSRA. 

“They don't have the proper wastewater processes in place to handle the amount of effluent and fluids that are coming out of it," Evgeniadis said. “There’s a certain amount of wastewater flow that can be discharged from the plant, and they have been discharging well above and beyond that threshold for quite some time now."

If Hanover Foods does not respond within 60 days, the Environmental Integrity Project on behalf of the Lower Susquehanna Riverkeeper Association will file a federal lawsuit with the U.S. Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania.

Hanover Foods' Factory Outlet Store in Hanover Tuesday, July 6, 2021. Bill Kalina photo

Hanover Foods, which has a food processing facility at 1550 York St. in Penn Township, did not respond to inquiries for comment.

This is not the first time Hanover Foods has violated state Department of Environmental Protection rules, according to Evgeniadis.

In 2017, the food company entered into a consent order agreement with the DEP after an inspection determined that Hanover Foods began construction of a new wastewater facility without permit authorization and fined the company $6,200, according to the letter of intent submitted on June 29. 

Hanover Foods was also subject to a 2013 consent order agreement with a civil penalty of $20,000, according to documents provided by the state DEP.

The company also paid $1,600 to fully resolve fecal coliform effluent violations from May 1, 2016, through Sept. 30, 2016, according to the letter of intent to sue.

“It's my duty to report violations to the state, and if the state doesn’t do anything about it, then I step in and I do something about it," Evgeniadis said.

A spokesperson for the DEP, John Repetz, declined to comment.

"We do not comment on matters of pending litigation," Repetz said via email.

The Lower Susquehanna Riverkeeper Association began an inquiry into litigation with Hanover Foods at the start of the year.

“Obviously we would like to hopefully do this outside of court ... but we’ll take it as far as we need to go," Evgeniadis said.

— Reach Tina Locurto at tlocurto@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @tina_locurto.