For release on December 17, 2019
Melanie Griswold, Deputy District Attorney
Environmental Protection Unit
Nation’s Largest Mushroom Grower to Pay $2.24 Million
for Years of Polluting South Bay Creek
Monterey Mushrooms, Inc., the nation’s largest mushroom grower, has agreed to pay $2.24 million to settle an environmental protection lawsuit brought by the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office.
The company was accused of pumping and allowing polluted wastewater to run into a local creek for years, despite orders and warnings dating back to the 1980s.
The settlement, which will be used in part to restore damage to Fisher Creek, is the largest judgment for a water pollution lawsuit brought by the DA.
“There has to be major accountability for years and years of preventable pollution,” District Attorney Jeff Rosen said. “Companies in this County should be crystal clear that illegally sacrificing our environment will not be profitable in the long run or tolerated, ever.”
Despite receiving several clean-up and abatement orders from the Regional Water Quality Board dating back to 1985, Monterey Mushrooms routinely discharged and allowed dirty wastewater with toxic levels of ammonia to flow into Fisher Creek. A coordinated investigation between the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and this Office showed that from early 2016 to the spring of 2017, Monterey Mushrooms released hundreds of thousands of gallons of wastewater from its holding ponds into waterways instead of paying to either contain it or dispose of it properly.
Monterey Mushrooms’ poor environmental practices were not limited its handling of wastewater. For years, Monterey Mushrooms stored large piles of compost close to Fisher Creek, allowing harmful chemicals and organic matter into the stream. Only when the District Attorney’s Office began its investigation did Monterey Mushrooms change its practices.
Since the suit was filed, Monterey Mushrooms has spent nearly $2.75 million in facility improvements and, as part of the settlement, agreed to a 5-year injunction with training, testing and oversight conditions.