Tyson Poultry Company Facing Significant Fines
After Tyson’s Alabama facility spilled treated wastewater into the Black Warrior River, thousands of fish died as a result. Now, the river is practically lifeless.
One of the world’s largest food companies is has committed one of the biggest environmental offenses. The state of Alabama and Tyson are currently negotiating a settlement after the company spilled 220,000 gallons of partially treated wastewater into a Mulberry Fork of the Black Warrior River.
Tyson’s facility in Hanceville, Alabama recycles poultry by-products to make ingredients for animal feed. At the time of the accident, a contactor was pumping partially treated wastewater from one retention pond to another when a section of a pipe blew apart. That caused the massive spill, causing the huge killing of fish due to a drop in river oxygen levels.
Last month, Tyson issued a letter to Hanceville residents and surrounding areas. It said, in part, “We understand that events like this are unacceptable. We strive to be good stewards of the environment and we take that obligation seriously.”
Lance LeFleur, Director of the Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM), and other regional residents do not see Tyson getting off so soundly: many demand Tyson see a significant monetary consequence, potentially millions of dollars-worth. James Bramlett, having fished the Mulberry Fork all his life, wants to see Tyson hit with multi-million-dollar fines and see the river restocked with fish for several years.
Tyson does not have a particularly great environmental track record, ABC3340 news article notes. In February 2018, Tyson was sentenced to pay $2.5 million in Missouri court and serve two years’ probation for violating the federal Clean Water Act. The fine stemmed from an incident four years prior when its Missouri facility killed 108,000 fish. In April 2013, Tyson settled with the DOJ and EPA to pay nearly $4 million after releases of anhydrous ammonia, a poisonous gas, killed one person and injured several others in Kansas, Missouri, Iowa, and Nebraska.
In both cases, Tyson had agreed to make improvements at the facilities that caused the accidents and conduct environmental training to avoid future problems of the like. The track record has not seemingly improved.
Tyson is currently talking to property owners, environmental groups, and state officials. However, it is not providing further details.