Pottsville, PA — D.G. Yuengling & Son, Inc. has installed an $8 million state-of-the-art wastewater pretreatment system at its historic Pottsville brewery, a key component of an agreement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Justice announced today.
The pretreatment system, which started operations in March, is one of several environmental programs the company has agreed to implement under terms of the agreement to reduce and manage the amount of organic materials (mainly sugar and yeast) in the wastewater its two Pottsville area breweries send to the Greater Pottsville Area Sewer Authority for treatment.
“Yuengling takes its environmental responsibilities seriously, and we are pleased to have reached an agreement with the EPA that strengthens our environmental protocols,” said Wendy Yuengling, chief administrative officer for Yuengling. “As a sixth-generation family business, we’re making these improvements as part of our commitment to the continued operation of America’s Oldest Brewery so future generations can enjoy our quality lagers, porters and ales.”
Yuengling’s Pottsville brewery has a permit from the sewer authority to send the wastewater that remains after the brewing process directly to the authority for treatment. The wastewater is not toxic or hazardous. In addition to water, it mostly contains what remains after the brewing process: sugar and yeast. However, in high concentrations, these organic materials can upset the sewer authority’s treatment process.
The Greater Pottsville Area Sewer Authority is regulated by EPA under the federal Clean Water Act because it has a federal permit to discharge its treated municipal wastewater into the Schuylkill River. Since Yuengling has a permit to send its wastewater to the sewer authority for treatment, it also falls under EPA’s Clean Water Act regulations.
As part of the consent decree agreement, which was approved by the U.S. District Court today, Yuengling will pay $2.8 million to the EPA for past exceedances of the permitted levels of organic materials (mainly sugar and yeast) and pH concentrations in the wastewater from its Pottsville and Mill Creek breweries.
Yuengling’s new wastewater pretreatment system collects sugar, yeast, and spent grains from the brewery’s wastewater and converts them into methane, a green energy biogas that will fuel a planned generator to provide electricity and heat for the system and the brewery’s museum and gift shop.
Removing these organic materials from the wastewater before it is sent to the sewer authority allows not only for the brewery to be better able to comply with its permit requirements, but also lessens the wastewater treatment efforts to be undertaken by the sewer authority.
As part of its agreement with the EPA, Yuengling will also: develop an Environmental Management System Manual for its two Pottsville area breweries; provide annual environmental compliance training to facility employees; create a communications and notification protocol for its interactions with the sewer authority; and retain third-party consultants to provide Yuengling and EPA with reports on the company’s regulatory compliance.
Plans for the Pottsville brewery wastewater pretreatment facility began in 2013. Construction was completed in February 2016 and the pretreatment system started operating in March.
Installation of the state-of-the-art wastewater pretreatment and the planned power generation system at the Pottsville brewery is consistent with Yuengling’s sustainability policy and our commitment to recycling and reuse, said Wendy Yuengling. For example, the malted barley and corn grains that remain after the brewing process are sold to farmers as cattle feed. The spent yeast, meanwhile, is sold to food manufacturers who use it as a protein supplement in their products. For more information on Yuengling’s commitment to the environment, please see: http://www.yuengling.com/our_story/responsible_brewing