Starke County Mint Farmer to be Sentenced Wednesday

Mint farmer, Mike Materna, of Hamlet, will be sentenced in U.S. District Court on Wednesday, October 5th. He plead guilty to one count of Discharge of Pollutants without a Permit in violation of the Clean Air Act. He reportedly admitted in court that he discharged hot water into a ditch without the proper permit.

According to the EPA, the unnamed ditch in which Materna pumped his discharged water is a tributary of Robbins Ditch, a stream that is fed by Koontz Lake and is a tributary of the Kankakee River.

An investigative report reportedly stated that the water being discharged was “extremely high in temperature and appeared to contain a small amount of oil that was creating a minor sheen on the roadside ditch and on the downstream waters of Robbins Ditch.”

According to The Farmer’s Exchange, Materna said that IDEM never followed up with mint farmers and that no one from IDEM or EPA ever inspected his mint operation. While Materna admitted discharging hot water into the ditch, he denied allegations that the water contained other pollutants like mint oil and mint leaves.

The maximum sentence is three years in prison and a $250,000 fine along with a fine of $50,000 a day for each day the infraction took place.