The incident took place in May 2014 when a tank at the Aurora feed mill used to store Alimet, an ingredient in its feed which has a pH of less than one, sprang a leak, and the acidic substance flowed into a secondary containment area.
The business then hired a contractor to remove the Alimet and transport it to Tyson’s Monett plant, where the Alimet was unloaded into the in-house treatment system that was not designed to treat waste with Alimet’s characteristics. Some of the Alimet made it into the City of Monett’s municipal waste water treatment plant, where it killed bacteria used to reduce ammonia in discharges from the treatment plant into Clear Creek, and resulting in the death of approximately 108,000 fish.
Under the terms of the plea agreement, Tyson will pay a $2m criminal fine and serve two years of probation. In addition, Tyson will pay $500,000 to maintain and restore waters in the Monett area, with a focus on Clear Creek and the adjoining waterways.
‘Deeply regret’ toxic mistake
“Our Division is hopeful that the outcome of this case will help deter future violations of the Clean Water Act and keep our water supply and marine life free from pollution,” said acting assistant attorney general Jeffrey H. Wood of the Environment and Natural Resources Division. “The agreement will remedy environmental harm caused by the defendant’s actions, while also helping to ensure that these kinds of problems do not happen again.”
Tyson took full responsibility for the violation of the Clean Water Act. The business had previously reached a settlement with the State of Missouri over the incident, and paid a civil penalty, funded a bridge replacement in the region and donated money to the James River Basin Partnership.
A Tyson spokesperson said: “An unfortunate mistake was made by our company in May 2014 that resulted in the accidental release of an animal feed ingredient into the City of Monett’s wastewater treatment system. The release disrupted the treatment system and resulted in a fish kill in a nearby stream.
“We deeply regret the mistake that was made and have taken corrective action to make sure it doesn’t happen again. We’re committed to doing better in all areas of our business, especially when it comes to protecting the environment.
“Since the incident, we’ve conducted lessons learned training for all environmental managers in our poultry operations and have strengthened our environmental policies and procedures to help prevent similar mistakes.”