“We’re sorry about what happened and have started trying to make things right,” said Worth Sparkman, public relations manager at Tyson Foods.
However, Missouri attorney general Chris Koster is suing the poultry processing giant over the incident on 16 May, in which at least 100,000 fish were killed.
His petition, filed this week, includes six counts against Tyson for pollution of state waters and violations of Missouri’s hazardous waste laws.
He is seeking penalties against the chicken processor, compensation for the damage to the stream, and reimbursement for the state’s costs in investigating the incident.
The Tyson poultry processing facility at Monett discharged wastewater, containing a highly acidic animal feed supplement, into the city’s sewer system, said Koster.
"The toxic liquid caused the city’s biological wastewater treatment system to fail, and contaminated water, containing a high level of ammonia, flowed into Clear Creek, leading to the fish kill," added the attorney general.
Tyson sets about improving its processes
Sparkman told us the food conglomerate has taken out newspaper adverts to publicly apologize about the “accidental release” of the feed additive into the local stream and, in addition, has requested a meeting with the Missouri Department of Natural Resources to see how it can help improve the polluted creek.
"We’ve also taken a hard look at how we manage environmental matters at Monett and are improving our processes because we don’t want this to ever happen again,” said the communications spokesperson for Tyson.
What the lawsuit claims
The incident began when the liquid feed supplement Alimet leaked into the secondary containment and mixed with water around one tank in Tyson's feed mill in Aurora, according to the lawsuit against the chicken company.
As a result of mixing with water, it was deemed to be waste. Highly acidic, with a low pH it was also considered to be hazardous due to its corrosive profile and no longer suitable for use in feed.
Employees then pumped the mixture of water and feed supplement from the secondary containment into tanker trucks and moved the liquid to its poultry processing facility in Monett, continued the petition.
The lawsuit states that some of the liquid was initially allowed go through the wastewater pre-treatment system at the Monett facility and then discharged into the city's sewer lines.
And the remainder of the liquid was, reportedly, then released into the municipal system after Tyson employees had first attempted to neutralize its acidity.