Tyson Foods Under Criminal Investigation by EPA for Toxic Spill at Missouri Plant

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Tyson Foods, the second largest producer of beef, pork and chicken products in the world, is under criminal investigation by the Environmental Protection Agency over a chemical spill at the company’s Missouri poultry-processing plant.

The chemical spill occurred in the small town of Monett, Missouri in May, with “highly acidic” wastewater responsible for a powerful ammonia content in the water that killed at least 100,000 fish, the Missouri Attorney General Christ Koster claims. Koster filed a lawsuit against Tyson Foods over the spill in June.

According to the Wall Street Journal, documents and records from Tyson Foods were seized during a search warrant served by the EPA, “as it looks into the plant’s discharge of waste from an animal feed supplement into the city’s sewers.”

After the spill, Tyson Foods met with Monett community members and apologized in a newspaper ad, stating, “We’re sorry about what happened and have started trying to make things right.”

However, the spill is not a unique incident for Tyson Foods, “The episode is the latest in a string of environmental missteps for Tyson,” reports the Wall Street Journal. “The company runs hundreds of processing plants, rendering facilities, feed mills and hatcheries around the world, capable of processing millions of chickens and tens of thousands of pigs and cows each week into fresh meat and packaged foods.”

An anhydrous ammonia leak on eight occasions between 2006 and 2010 that violated the Clean Air Act and caused one death, cost Tyson Foods $4 million in a settlement, reports the Journal. And several other recent violations of the Clean Water Act in Nebraska and North Carolina have cost the company more than $2.3 million in settlements.

The incident at the Monett poultry plant could incur more EPA fines, and the city may file claims against Tyson for damages and for forcing the city violate municipal water regulations.

Find Jill on Twitter @jillettinger

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