Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Attorney general reaches agreement with Tyson over Clear Creek fish kill

Attorney General Chris Koster announced today that he has reached a settlement with Tyson Foods over a fish kill Tyson caused in May 2014 in Clear Creek in Barry County. Koster had sued the company last June.

Koster said that beginning last May 16, the Tyson Foods facility at Monett discharged wastewater from Tyson’s Aurora facility containing a highly acidic animal feed supplement into the city of Monett’s sewer system. The discharge caused the city’s biological wastewater treatment system to fail, and contaminated water containing a high level of ammonia flowed into Clear Creek, causing at least 100,000 fish to die.

Under the terms of the settlement agreement, Tyson will pay the state of Missouri $162,898 for natural resource damages. In addition, Tyson will pay $110,000 in civil penalties, will reimburse the Missouri Department of Natural Resources more than $11,000 for its costs and expenses, and will reimburse the Missouri Department of Conservation more than $36,000 for its costs and expenses.

Tyson will also pay to replace a bridge over Clear Creek at Farm Road 1050 in Lawrence County that has acted as a barrier to fish moving readily up and downstream. Tyson will donate $10,000 to the James River Basin Partnership, a not-for-profit organization that works to improve and protect the water quality of all rivers, lakes and streams in the James River watershed, located in seven counties in Southwest Missouri. If the cost of the bridge is less than $210,000, Tyson will also donate additional funds up to that amount to the Partnership.

The agreement also outlines additional obligations of Tyson, including preparation of a hazardous waste manifest before transporting any hazardous waste in Missouri, and allows the state of Missouri the right to inspect the Monett and Aurora facilities at any time to check for compliance with the law and to monitor the progress of all activities required in the agreement.

Koster said the company has already taken steps to ensure the mistake does not occur again, including:
New requirements and practices to prevent, monitor and respond to animal-feed releases at its corporate feed mills;
Additional hazardous waste and water discharge training to personnel at the Monett and Aurora facilities;
A new, company-wide environmental operating procedure that focuses on feed mill chemical storage practices;
A summit of managers at all its Missouri facilities to conduct a comprehensive review of environmental issues at those facilities.

Koster toured the site of the Clear Creek fish kill and the Monett water treatment facility last June.

"Tyson’s actions threatened the vitality of Clear Creek," Koster said. "While Tyson has taken steps to prevent similar environmental damage to the creek in the future, the penalties contained in this agreement hold the company accountable for the damage that occurred."

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