Tyson Foods was sued on Wednesday (April 29) by the Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall on behalf of the state’s environmental and conservation resources. The civil suit was filed in Walker County, Ala., where much of the water pollution occurred after a pet food ingredients facility had two wastewater releases in mid-2019, killing an estimated 175,000 fish.
The partially treated wastewater from the Hanceville plant was accidentally released from a temporary pipe that polluted local waterways on May 26 and June 6, 2019.
The Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources traced the release of more than 220,000 gallons back to the River Valley pet ingredients plant, acquired by Tyson Foods in August of 2018. The agency cited a failure of the above ground pipe used to pump partially treated wastewater from one holding pond to another at the Tyson Foods processing plant.
Tyson Foods spokesman Worth Sparkman gave the following statement to Talk Business & Politics on Friday.
“We’ve tried for many months to work with the state to resolve this matter, including an offer to initiate conservation and community projects including river access in the area of the accidental release. We are disappointed in the decision of the Alabama Attorney General to file suit. We’re focused on the health and safety of our employees and are doing all we can to continue to feed America during these challenging times. We look forward to presenting our side of the story.”
The suit claims Tyson Foods violated the Alabama Water Pollution Control Act with the unpermitted releases into local waterways causing oxygen levels to drop and fish and wildlife to die. The spill was referred to a public nuisance damaging the general public’s ability to use and enjoy the waterways.
Other accusations in the suit include trespass to land and to chattel as well as negligence.
Tyson Foods took responsibility for the environment mishap and published an open letter in June 2019 to the residents in affected areas.