FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASEENRD
THURSDAY, JANUARY 20, 2000(202) 514-2007
WWW.USDOJ.GOVTDD (202) 514-1888
MISSISSIPPI POULTRY COMPANY, CORPORATE OFFICER INDICTED FOR
CONSPIRING TO VIOLATE THE CLEAN WATER ACT
WASHINGTON, D.C. - A federal grand jury has indicted a Mississippi poultry rendering company and its president on criminal charges that they conspired to dump hundreds of thousands of gallons of slaughterhouse waste into a stream that supplies drinking water to Jackson, Miss. The indictment also charges 70 separate Clean Water Act violations resulting from these discharges.
The indictment charges that Central Industries Inc., and its president Tam Etheridge, repeatedly and knowingly violated Central's wastewater discharge permit, issued by the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality under the Clean Water Act. The indictment also charges several other companies, each of which was a shareholder in Central Industries, in the conspiracy--B.C. Rogers Poultry, Choctaw Maid Farms, Lady Forest Farms, Marshall Durbin Farms, and McCarty Farms.
"Protecting drinking water supplies is a priority of this Administration," said Lois J. Schiffer, Assistant Attorney General for the Environment and Natural Resources Division. "We will ensure that companies comply with the Clean Water Act."
Central's rendering plant in Forest, Miss., produced hundreds of thousands of gallons of wastewater daily that contained pollutants including ammonia nitrogen, fecal coliform, grease and other rotting material. The indictment returned today alleges that between 1975 and 1995, the corporate owners of Central would ship significantly more blood, feathers and other slaughterhouse waste than Central had the capacity to render or process without substantially violating its wastewater discharge permit. As a result, the indictment alleges that Central dumped illegal amounts of pollution into Shockaloo Creek, a tributary of the Pearl River, which supplies drinking water to Jackson, Miss.
The indictment also charges that Central employees from time to time would bypass the rendering plant and dump truckloads of untreated chicken blood into a wastewater lagoon behind the facility.
As part of the conspiracy, the defendants allegedly ignored warnings from regulators that the Central plant was operating beyond its capacity and that its wastewater treatment equipment was inadequate to process the tons of waste the plant received each week. The indictment charges that despite these conditions, Central knowingly increased the amount of slaughterhouse waste it accepted over time without sufficiently upgrading its equipment.
The indictment charges that, during the spring of 1995, the rendering plant committed approximately 1,114 violations of its wastewater permit between April and June of that year. During that period, the excessive amounts of pollutants discharged by Central into Shockaloo Creek turned the waterway brown and caused it to emit a putrid odor.
This indictment is related to a plea agreement filed on December 10, 1999 between the United States and Terrence Miller, the former Chief Operating Officer of Central Industries, in which Mr. Miller pled guilty to a felony violation of the Clean Water Act at the same facility.
For an individual, each charge is punishable by a sentence of up to three years imprisonment and a fine up to $250,000 and a period of supervised released, or twice the gain or loss resulting from the crime. For a corporation, each charge is punishable by a fine of up to $500,000 or twice the gain or loss resulting from the crime.