FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                         ENR
FRIDAY, AUGUST 8, 1997                             (202) 514-2008
                                               TDD (202) 514-1888


     WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The U.S. District Court in Norfolk today
fined Smithfield Foods and two of its subsidiaries $12.6 million
for discharging illegal levels of pollutants from their
slaughterhouse into the Pagan River, violating the federal Clean
Water Act.

     In imposing the largest civil fine ever in a Clean Water Act
case, Judge Rebecca Beech Smith stated in her opinion that
Smithfield's violations "had a significant impact on the
environment and the public, and thus in total their violations of
the effluent limits were extremely serious."

     The subsidiaries, Smithfield Packing Company and Gwaltney of
Smithfield Ltd., each operate a hog slaughtering and processing
plant in Smithfield, Virginia where the violations occurred.  The
treatment plants at these facilities process the waste generated
during the hog slaughtering and meat processing operations.

     Lois Schiffer, Assistant Attorney General in charge of the
Justice Department's Environment and Natural Resources Division,
said: "The court's decision today is a victory for Virginians and
all Americans who want clean waters.  Would-be polluters of our
nation's waters are on notice--if you dirty our waters, you will
pay the price."

     Steven A. Herman, EPA Assistant Administrator for Enforcement
and Compliance Assurance, said: "This decision sends two clear
messages.  First, it reinforces EPA's position that those who
violate our environmental laws and endanger our nation's precious
water resources will be held accountable for their actions. 
Second, EPA will not hesitate to take an enforcement action to
uphold the law and ensure that the public health and environment of
all our citizens - regardless of the region of the country or state
they live in - will be protected."

     A may 1997 ruling in favor of the United States found the
companies' failure to install adequate pollution control equipment
and properly treat wastewater resulted in more than 5,000
violations of permit limits for phosphorous, fecal coliform and
other pollutants.  These violations, which occurred for more than
five years, degraded the Pagan River, the James River and the
Chesapeake Bay.  Another ruling found Smithfield had falsified
documents and destroyed water quality records.

     The plants' water discharge permits set limits designed to
protect the quality of Virginia's waterways.  EPA found serious,
chronic violations of discharge limits for several pollutants
including, phosphorous, ammonia, cyanide, oil, grease, and fecal

     Sampling of the Pagan River revealed excess fecal coliform
levels, an indicator of the presence of intestinal wastes from
warm-blooded animals.  Fecal coliform is an organism found in
animal and human waste that is often associated with bacteria known
to cause serious illness in humans.  The Pagan River has been
closed to shellfish harvesting since 1970 due to high coliform

     Because Smithfield delayed installing essential pollution
control equipment and continued dumping waste into the river for
five years, EPA and the Department of Justice took federal
enforcement action to impose appropriate penalties, and prevent
future violations.