Tyson Foods’ poultry unit has been fined $2 million after an animal feed ingredient spill led to the deaths of 108,000 fish in Missouri.
The company pleaded guilty to two charges, and it will also have to pay $500,000 to help clean the water affected by the 2014 spill.
Tyson poultry’s conviction arose out of a spill at its feed mill in Aurora, Missouri, where it mixed ingredients to produce chicken feed.
One ingredient was a liquid food supplement called Alimet, which is a very strong acid with a pH of less than one, said the US Department of Justice.
In a statement, the department said: “In May 2014, the tank used to store Alimet at the Aurora feed mill sprang a leak. Tyson had the spilled substance transported to its Monett plant where the Alimet was then discharged into the sewers and flowed into the City of Monett municipal waste water treatment plant.
“The Alimet killed bacteria used to reduce ammonia in discharges from the treatment plant. As a result, more ammonia was released from the plant into Clear Creek, and approximately 108,000 fish were killed.”
Under the terms of the plea agreement, Tyson has agreed to retain an independent, third-party auditor to examine environmental compliance at its poultry facilities across the country; conduct specialised environmental training at all of its poultry processing plants, hatcheries, feed mills, rendering plants, and waste water treatment plants; and implement improved policies and procedures to address the circumstances that gave rise to these violations.
Jeffrey H. Wood, acting assistant attorney general for the Department of Justice environment and natural resources division, said: “Good corporate practices are vital to protecting public health and our nation’s natural resources.
“When corporate misconduct disregards human safety or the environment in violation of federal laws, the Department of Justice and EPA [Environmental Protection Agency] stand ready to pursue all necessary legal relief, including criminal penalties, to ensure that these acts do not go unpunished. We hope that the outcome of this case will be a lesson for all companies that deal with dangerous wastes.”
Timothy A. Garrison, attorney for the Western District of Missouri, added: “Today’s sentence not only remedies the harm Tyson Poultry caused locally, but puts safeguards in place to prevent similar occurrences at Tyson Poultry facilities across the country.
“Tyson’s $2.5 million fine and restitution payment reflects the seriousness of this offence and our commitment to protect Missouri’s natural resources.”
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