Tyson faces lawsuit after wastewater spill kills fish

Tyson Foods is facing legal action after a wastewater spill killed thousands of fish in the Black Warrior River in Alabama.

Andrei310 | Bigstock.com
Andrei310 | Bigstock.com

Tyson Foods is facing legal action after a wastewater spill killed thousands of fish in the Black Warrior River in Alabama.

On June 6, Tyson reported a release of partially treated wastewater from one of its facilities to the Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM). According to ADEM, “the release was reportedly due to the failure of an above-ground hose/pipe that was being used to pump the partially treated wastewater from one holding pond to another holding pond.” An estimated 800,000 gallons of water spilled in the incident.

ADEM and the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (ADCNR) detected low levels of dissolved oxygen in the river’s waters, which is believed to be the cause of death for an estimated 175,000 fish along a 22-mile stretch of the river. ADEM said dead fish were observed as far as 40 miles downstream from the facility.

In addition, reports say that testing has found elevated levels of E. coli along the river, and people and pets should avoid contact with the river waters.

“Recent rains have aided in the recovery of water quality and dissolved oxygen levels have now returned to normal conditions,” ADEM said in a bulletin dated June 11.

Tyson has hired an emergency response contractor to recover as much of the released wastewater as possible, and the contractor has begun to collect dead fish for proper disposal.

“We deeply regret the incident on the Mulberry Fork near Hanceville, Alabama,” a Tyson spokesperson said in a statement. “We’ve been working diligently and cooperatively with the Alabama Department of Environmental Management and the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. We are working to make things right, and have an environmental contractor on-site and in the waterways, actively working on cleanup and the collection of fish impacted by this incident.”

The Sipsey Heritage Commission, which says it improves the health and well-being of the community by improving access to natural resources, announced on its Facebook page June 18 that it is suing Tyson “regarding the assault on our river.”

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