State regulatory issue causes Luverne to lose first tru-Shrimp production facility

LUVERNE - The city of Luverne was to be the first site of a tru Shrimp production facility with a groundbreaking this year, but according to a statement released by the company Friday, that will not be the case.

The release states the first production facility will now be built in Madison, South Dakota.

According to the statement, trū Shrimp originally intended to build its first Harbor in Luverne on 67-acres.  

The statement  says, "However, as a part of the final permitting process, the company encountered a state regulatory challenge that could not be addressed in the timeframe needed to meet its commercialization goals."

Sen. Bill Weber, who just learned of the problem this week, said he was told it was a specific conductance issue, which is a measure of the ability of a substance to conduct electric current. He said he dealt with specific conductance when Prime Iowa Pork looked into opening a facility in Luverne.

To his knowledge, trū Shrimp became aware of the problem six to eight weeks ago, Weber said.

Luverne Mayor Pat Baustian, in communication with other city leaders, stated trū Shrimp CEO Michael Ziebell said because trū Shrimp could not currently meet the wastewater discharge criteria for meeting the levels of specific conductance, they are postponing the construction of Luverne Bay Harbor for up to three years.

The regulations regarding specific conductance are set by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. According to several sources, South Dakota and Iowa do not have any set levels for specific conductance.

Weber said he is hoping to get more information from the engineers at trū Shrimp before he proceeds to the next steps.

"The reality of it is, if we don't get this fixed through the MPCA - come to grips with this specific conductance thing, we're going to watch another $300 million project cross the state line," he stated.

To Weber's knowledge, the project has not been cancelled, it is postponed.

A statement from the city of Luverne and Baustain says, " Although the City of Luverne is disappointed in the delay of constructing the Luverne Bay Harbor, we are committed to working alongside trū Shrimp and the State of Minnesota to shape public policies to reduce state regulatory roadblocks.  The City of Luverne stands ready to facilitate the construction of the second trū Shrimp harbor in Luverne in three years.

"The State of MN has invested $1.982 million in public infrastructure to support the Luverne Bay Harbor. We will continue to assist trū Shrimp by working with the State of Minnesota to support the development of this industry in Luverne and the State of Minnesota."

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