FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE |
WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 1, 2004
U.S. ATTORNEY’S OFFICE
(319) 363-8313 X 3205
JUSTICE DEPARTMENT ALLEGES VIOLATIONS AT AGRIPROCESSORS, INC.
MEAT PACKING PLANT IN POSTVILLE, IOWA
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The Department of Justice and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced today the filing of a civil action against AgriProcessors, Inc., a meat packaging plant in Postville, Iowa. The complaint, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Iowa, alleges that AgriProcessors has committed Clean Water Act violations by failing to comply with pretreatment requirements for its wastewater going into a lagoon treatment system owned by the City of Postville and then discharged into the Yellow River.
“Today’s action signals that the Justice Department will not turn a blind eye to companies that seek to violate our nation’s environmental laws, particularly when the violations concern treating industrial wastewater that eventually ends up in our rivers and streams,” said Thomas L. Sansonetti, Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division.
It is alleged that AgriProcessors’s discharges of wastewater to the city’s treatment system have caused the City of Postville to violate the Clean Water Act by causing the city to violate pollutant limitations and discharge more frequently than appropriate from its lagoon treatment system. The United States and the State of Iowa entered into a settlement with the City of Postville for related Clean Water Act violations in October. Last month, the United States entered into a settlement with another meat packaging company in Postville, Iowa Turkey Products, Inc., resolving Clean Water Act and other violations similar to those alleged against AgriProcessors. Iowa Turkey Products is no longer operating in Postville.
It is further alleged that AgriProcessors violated the Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know Act and the Clean Air Act for failing to properly submit emergency and hazardous chemical inventory forms and develop a risk management program for anhydrous ammonia used in the company’s refrigeration process.
The complaint seeks injunctive relief and civil penalties under the applicable federal statutes.
A citizens’ group, known as the Northeast Iowa Citizens for Clean Water, entered into the settlement with the City of Postville in October and also filed a similar lawsuit against AgriProcessors.
AgriProcessors began operations in Postville in 1987, when it purchased a meat processing plant and converted it to a kosher meat processing plant for beef, veal, lamb, chicken and turkey. AgriProcessors markets to both domestic and international customers and is considered one of the top producers of kosher meats in the nation.
The United States and AgriProcessors have filed a joint request with the Court to schedule a settlement conference.