North Carolina Poultry Processing Plant Sentenced for Violating Clean Water Act
A federal judge sentenced House of Raeford Farms Inc., a poultry slaughtering and processing facility located in Raeford, N.C., to a fine of $150,000, a two year period of probation and to pay a special assessment of $4,000 on Feb. 26, 2013, for 10 counts of knowingly violating the Clean Water Act.
House of Raeford Inc. allowed plant employees to bypass the facility’s pretreatment system and send its untreated wastewater directly to the City of Raeford’s Wastewater Treatment Plant, without notifying city officials. House of Raeford Inc. failed to prevent employees from sending thousands of gallons of wastewater into a pretreatment system that did not have the capacity to adequately treat the amount of wastewater before it discharged to the city plant. The untreated wastewater discharged directly to the city plant was contaminated with waste from processing operations, including blood, grease, and body parts from the slaughtered turkeys. A House of Raeford, Inc. former employee admitted that the facility would continue to “kill turkeys” despite being warned that the unauthorized bypasses had an adverse impact on the city’s Wastewater Treatment Plant. The city plant was responsible for treating industrial, commercial and residential wastewater before it was discharged to Rockfish Creek in Hoke County.
The bypasses and failure to report them were in violation of House of Raeford’s pretreatment permit as well as the city’s sewer use ordinance. Many of the bypasses took place while House of Raeford was subject to a consent order with the city that required it to construct a new pretreatment system and comply with all requirements of its pretreatment permit. A number of the bypasses were recorded in log books kept by House of Raeford Inc. wastewater operators, and were never revealed to the City.
The case was prosecuted by the Justice Department’s Environmental Crimes Section and was investigated by U.S. Environmental Protection Agency-Criminal Investigation Division and North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation.