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Domaine Chandon Fined for Spilling Waste into Napa River

Domaine Chandon Inc. has been ordered to pay roughly $24,000 for spilling wine waste into a tributary of the Napa River in the Napa Valley last summer according to court records.

The sparkling wine producer was penalized for two incidents during which about 1,300 gallons of wine waste ended up in the unnamed stream near a production plant in Yountville, according to the court filings and state records.

On Aug. 11, 2016, about 300 gallons of wine waste spilled when a discharge/plumbing line on a wastewater pump was clogged, with some of the waste entering a creek that runs through the property, according to a report to the Governor’s Office Emergency Services and the company. Two days later, on Aug. 13, the sump clogged again and another 1,000 gallons of wine waste overflowed, according to the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services. In both incidents, the company handled the cleanup.

On March 15, 2017, the Napa County District Attorney’s Office filed a civil complaint against Domaine Chandon for discharging wine waste into state waters and unfair competition, according to the filing. Prosecutors and the company agreed on a resolution the same day.

Twelve days later, on March 27, Napa County Superior Court Judge Rodney Stone signed a stipulation that called for nearly $24,000 in penalties and other payments to be distributed among various agencies.

The payments include $6,250 to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, $6,250 to Napa County Fish and Game fund, $5,000 to the Napa County District Attorney’s Office, $5,000 to the Napa County Regional Parks and Open Space District and about $1,300 in investigative costs.

The judgement, filed March 30, also ordered Domaine Chandon to train employees on how to prevent spills and properly dispose of wine and other production-related waste. Domaine Chandon is now required to have a third party to inspect the condition of the company’s wastewater lines and pump system twice a year, with the company making any necessary repairs, according to the court filing.

Domaine Chandon on Friday said in a statement “We fully accept the judgement and continue to work closely with the relevant agencies.” The company also stated it “has put comprehensive solutions in place to back up the existing system to prevent future incidents. A number of improvements have been made to the plumbing system. These actions build on Domaine Chandon’s continuous operation in an environmentally compliant manner”

Discussions are under way to place about 10 acres of Domaine Chandon’s property within the Town of Yountville’s “sphere of influence”—land the Town of Yountville may annex someday. The proposal before the Local Agency Formation Commission of Napa County, an agency that reviews urban boundaries, focuses on the land that includes the winery’s visitor center; it does not include Domaine Chandon’s production facilities. It was expected April 3.

The Town of Yountville treats Domaine Chandon’s sewage; town officials want the commercial lands annexed into the town. One issue under consideration is that connection to the Town of Yountville’s sewer system. A 2015 study concluded that maintaining the existing connection to the Town of Yountville’s wastewater system is a better alternative than constructing a new sewage treatment system at Domaine Chandon, in part because it reduces the risks of soil and surface water contamination.

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