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Waseca, MN (KROC-AM News) - ConAgra Brands has paid a $1.25 million civil penalty and has completed an upgrade project costing $7 million at its food processing facility in Waseca due to air quality violations.

The Chicago-based company owns and operates the Birds Eye vegetable processing plant on the west side of the south-central Minnesota city and, according to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, was found in violation of air quality standards on more than 2,500 occasions between 2020 and 2022. A news release says the violations involved hydrogen sulfide emissions that cause a "rotten egg" smell and can be harmful to human health.

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As part of the settlement worked out between the MPCA and ConAgra Brands, the company completed the installation of new equipment designed to reduce hydrogen sulfide releases. The state agency says the deal mandated that the company spend a minimum of $7 million on the project. ConAgra also agreed to share non-proprietary technology, engineering, operation, and maintenance details to allow other food processors to adopt similar upgrades to reduce emissions.

Just last year, ConAgra Brands announced the opening of a new 245,000-square-foot vegetable processing facility in Waseca at a cost of nearly $300 million. A news release says the new Birds Eye plant was designed to replace a 92-year-old facility and cut water usage by about 25%.

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