WASHINGTON—Washington Beef LLC, the operator of a large slaughterhouse in Toppenish, Wash., has agreed to pay a $750,000 civil penalty and will install several pieces of new waste water treatment equipment that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates will cost approximately $3 million to resolve allegations that it violated the Clean Water Act, the Justice Department and EPA announced today.
Washington Beef is owned by AgriBeef Co., a privately held corporation based in Boise, Idaho. Its facility is located in Toppenish on the Yakama Indian Reservation.
Under the settlement, Washington Beef will pay the civil penalty and will install five new pieces of equipment including a new sequential batch reactor, which is a large concrete basin equipped with aerators in which bacteria break down organic pollutants from the slaughterhouse. The addition of the sequential batch reactor and other equipment will greatly increase the treatment capacity at the plant.
According to a complaint filed with the settlement agreement in federal court in Spokane, Wash., Washington Beef violated the Clean Water Act on numerous occasions from 2003 until 2009. EPA alleges that the company discharged partially-treated slaughterhouse wastes into the Spencer Lateral and the Wanity Slough, nearby waterways, without a permit for an extended period, and it also exceeded the level of pollutants allowed by its permit on numerous occasions. The company has recently obtained a permit for all of its discharges, and is currently meeting its permit limits. The new equipment the company is installing should help ensure future compliance with the Clean Water Act.
The consent decree, lodged in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Washington, is subject to a 30-day public comment period and approval by the federal court. A copy of the consent decree is available on the Justice Department website at http://www.justice.gov/enrd/Consent_Decrees.html.