A major kosher poultry slaughterhouse in upstate New York has been sued by the Manhattan U.S. Attorney's Office and the EPA over allegations that it's illegally flooding local water with harmful animal waste and body parts.
According to a press release issued by the office of Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preeta Bharara today, both Kiryas Joel Poultry Processing Plant and Kiryas Joel Meat Market, located in the Hasidic enclave of Kiryas Joel in Monroe, N.Y., have been violating the federal Clean Water Act since 2008. Bharara and EPA representative Judith Enck claim the slaughterhouse has been dumping chicken parts, fats and animal waste into the Ramapo River, which flows through southern New York and northern New Jersey. According to a complaint filed in a White Plains court:
At various times between 2008 and the present, the Defendants have spilled and allowed the overflow of untreated wastewater from their poultry processing plant into storm drains and storm sewers that discharge into two tributaries of the Ramapo River, known as Highland Brook and Tributary No. 25, in the Village of Kiryas Joel, in Orange County, New York. Between 2008 and 2012, Defendants also failed to obtain a permit for the discharge of stormwater associated with industrial activities, and illegally discharged contaminated stormwater through storm drains. Finally, from 2008 to 2012, Defendants discharged substantial volumes of untreated wastewater to the local sewage plant, interfering with that plant’s operations and causing contaminated waste to be discharged into the waters of the United States in violation of the sewage plant’s permit.
So, basically, if the EPA and U.S. Attorney are correct, the Ramapo River is, or at least was, full of dead chickens and their poo. Swell. For its part, KJ Poultry Processing admits to having violated the Clean Water Act in the past, but says it's since cleaned up considerably. Their legal council provided us the following statement:
Today’s agreement with the federal government resolves past environmental issues that KJ Poultry thoroughly addressed in the Fall of 2011, when the company completed installation of a new wastewater pretreatment facility and an improved stormwater drain system surrounding the plant’s exterior. Since the completion of these improvements, inadvertent spills and overflows have been eliminated, the plant’s wastewater has consistently met the requirements of the plant’s discharge permit, and inadvertent discharges of pollutants from stormwater runoff have been eliminated.
Nonetheless, the government wanted to reach agreement with the company concerning past violations allegedly caused by KJ Poultry. The company made a business decision to enter into an agreement with the government rather than spend resources litigating in court. The terms of this agreement are consistent with comparable agreements entered into by food processors elsewhere in the country. The violations alleged by the government were inadvertent and sporadic (as reflected in Section V of the agreement), and did not involve toxic pollutants or otherwise harm the environment.
The plant has agreed to pay a $330,000 fine.