Alabama’s attorney general files suit against Tyson Foods over river spill

By Jane Byrne

- Last updated on GMT

GettyImages/alfexe
GettyImages/alfexe

Related tags Tyson foods river spill Processing and packaging Innovation

Alabama’s Attorney General (AG) has filed a lawsuit on behalf of the State of Alabama, the Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM) and Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) against Tyson Foods Inc over two river spills last summer.

The legal action by the AG, Steve Marshall, against the company was taken over spills that occurred 11 days apart at the Tyson poultry by-product for feed production plant near Hanceville, Alabama on May 26 and June 6, 2019.

We reported​ on community anger over the incident only yesterday, with the AG’s spokesperson then declining to comment on whether punitive action was due. Tyson had told us it was in discussions with the state of Alabama and other groups concerned by the river spill.

The lawsuit charges Tyson with violations of the Alabama Water Pollution Control Act. 

The AG’s Office released a statement about the litigation yesterday.

On June 6, a pipe failure at the Tyson Plant in Hanceville, Alabama, caused the release of over 200,000 gallons of insufficiently-treated wastewater into the Mulberry Fork of the Black Warrior River. 

“Since that time, the Attorney General’s Office has undertaken extensive preparation for litigation, and today, the Attorney General filed suit against Tyson.

“The Attorney General’s mission in this matter is simple—to see the State made whole for the damage done to our environment and to see the affected communities adequately compensated for their unique and devastating losses.”

The lawsuit alleges that “unpermitted discharges of wastewater and/or partially treated wastewater from Defendant’s facility into waters of the State caused depressed levels of dissolved oxygen and elevated levels of pathogens. These discharges resulted in the killing of various species of fish and other wildlife downstream of the facility. Defendant’s aforesaid discharges further interfered with and damaged the general public’s ability to use and enjoy waters of the State.”

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