Tyson Fresh Meats to Pay $2 M for Discharges

Tyson Fresh Meats, Inc., the world’s largest supplier of premium beef and pork, has agreed to pay a $2,026,500 civil penalty to settle allegations that it violated terms of a 2002 consent decree and a federally issued pollution discharge permit at its meat processing facility in Dakota City, Neb., the Justice Department and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced on Aug. 21.

In April 2002, Tyson Fresh Meats, known as IBP Inc., until May 2003, entered into a consent decree with the federal government and the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality to bring wastewater discharges at its facility into compliance with state and federal law. Tyson discharges an average of 5 million gallons of treated effluent from its Dakota City facility into the Missouri River each day.

The 2002 consent decree required IBP to complete a supplemental environmental project -- a $2.9-million nitrification system that was intended to reduce the amount of ammonia in its wastewater discharges to the Missouri River.

The 2002 consent decree also provided that once the installation of the nitrification system was complete, the United States would begin to enforce certain limits of a new National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit relating to toxicity and ammonia levels in the facilities treated wastewater discharge.

According to a filing made Aug. 20 in U.S. District Court in Omaha, the government alleges that from July 2003 through March 2004, Tyson failed to properly operate the nitrification system as required by the 2002 consent decree, and as a result, had numerous discharges of fecal coliform and nitrites in violation of its 2002 NPDES permit.

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