Tyson Poultry said it has taken responsibility for an incident in 2014 at a facility in Monett, Missouri.
The poultry company pleaded guilty to two criminal charges related to discharges from a slaughter and processing facility, according to information from the US Department of Justice. The charges related to violation of the Clean Water Act.
As part of the federal resolution, the company is set to pay $2m fine to the federal government. It also has agreed to make a $500,000 community service payment that is set to be split between the city of Monett and environmental organizations in Missouri.
“We deeply regret the mistake that was made and have taken corrective action to make sure it doesn’t happen again,” company officials said in a statement on the matter. “We’re committed to doing better in all areas of our business, especially when it comes to protecting the environment.”
The charges stemmed from a spill of feed ingredients from a chicken feed facility in Aurora, Missouri, said the Department of Justice.
“Ensuring agricultural operations dispose of their waste in a lawful way is critical to protecting the health of local communities and clean water,” said Larry Starfield, acting assistant administrator for EPA’s office of enforcement and compliance assurance. “The plea agreement in this case will improve Tyson’s compliance with important clean water and hazardous waste laws and help prevent future violations.”
“Tyson’s admitted criminal conduct caused significant environmental damage, including a large-scale fish kill,” said Tom Larson, acting US attorney of the Western District of Missouri. “[The] plea agreement not only holds Tyson accountable for its actions in Missouri, but requires the company to take steps to insure compliance with the Clean Water Act at its poultry facilities throughout the United States.”
Event history and resolution details
One of the ingredients used at the Monett feed facility was acidic and when a tank used to house the product started to leak, the substances was released into a secondary containment area, reported the justice department. Tyson hired a contractor to move the ingredient to a company facility in Monett, where the product entered an in-house treatment system, which could not manage it.
The product went through Monett’s municipal wastewater treatment plant and killed the bacteria needed to limit ammonia in discharges made into Clear Creek, which resulted in a die-off of fish, said the department.
In addition to the fine, Tyson is set to serve two years of program, said the department. The company also has agreed to an environmental compliance program that includes having a third-party auditor check all Tyson poultry facilities for compliance with the Clean Water Act, have specialized environmental training and put in place better procedures and processes to cover any similar circumstances in the future.
“An unfortunate mistake was made by our company in May 2014 that resulted in the accidental release of an animal feed ingredient into the City of Monett’s wastewater treatment system,” Tyson officials said. “The release disrupted the treatment system and resulted in a fish kill in a nearby stream.”
Following the feed ingredient discharge in 2014, the company reached a settlement with the state, which required it to pay a civil penalty, donate money to the James River Basin Partnership and fund a bridge replacement in Monett, they said.
“Since the incident, we’ve conducted lessons learned training for all environmental managers in our poultry operations and have strengthened our environmental policies and procedures to help prevent similar mistakes,” they said.