World's largest meatpacker to pay $4.1 in penalties under agreement with EPA

IBP Inc, the world's largest meatpacker, has agreed to pay the United States Environmental Protection Agency $4.1 million in penalties for wastewater violations reaching back about 13 years.

WASHINGTON, DC, October 17, 2001 — IBP Inc, the world's largest meatpacker, has agreed to pay the United States Environmental Protection Agency $4.1 million in penalties for wastewater violations reaching back about 13 years.

IBP will construct more wastewater treatment systems at its Dakota City, Nebraska plant to reduce discharges of ammonia to the Missouri River, the Environmental News Service reported. The company will continue to expand operational improvements ordered last year that will reduce H2S air emissions.

The agreement settles a January 2000 lawsuit the Department of Justice filed on behalf of EPA involving wastewater and air pollution charges from its facilities near Dakota City, Neb., and other facilities in Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas and Texas.

Each day, the Dakota City plant slaughters about 5,000 cows and tans almost as many hides. The wastewater plant treats and discharges about four million gallons per day of wastewater into the Missouri River.

As part of the settlement, IBP will pay $2.25 million to the EPA and $1.85 million to the state of Nebraska, and will install additional improvements at one of its wastewater treatment plants. In return, the EPA has dropped its lawsuit against the company, as well as its claims of environmental violations by the company. The settlement is not an admission of wrongdoing by the company, IBP said in a statement.

"Our company has been and will continue to be committed to protecting the environment and complying with all environmental laws and requirements," William Tolle, IBP assistant vice president-Environmental Affairs, said. "While we still don't agree with the nature and extent of the claims made in the federal government's lawsuit, we're glad that we were able to come to an agreement that allows us to put this matter behind us. We can now fully focus the resources of our new company on the positive impact we can have on our communities and the environment. We're dedicated to doing the right thing, and will continue to maintain a positive relationship with state and federal agencies that regulate the environment."

Tolle noted that certain government concerns were already being addressed by the company when the January 2000 lawsuit was filed. For example, IBP announced plans in 1997 to construct covered lagoons at its Dakota City, Nebraska, plant in order to reduce biogas odors. The multi-million dollar lagoon project has since been completed and is operating successfully.

The settlement resolves government claims about air and water quality, waste management, and release reporting at IBP's Dakota City, Nebraska complex. It also settles water quality issues at former IBP facilities in Gibbon, Nebraska and Palestine, Texas. Improvements were completed at the Gibbon and Palestine facilities even before the company reached this settlement with the governments.

As part of the agreement, the company will voluntarily install a full nitrification system at Dakota City, which will more efficiently reduce ammonia levels in the wastewater treatment process. "This is an example of our willingness to invest the company's resources in environmental protection and to go above and beyond what is required by law to protect the environment," Tolle said. The new system is scheduled for completion in the summer of 2003.

(This project was undertaken in connection with the settlement of an environmental enforcement action, United States v. IBP inc., taken on behalf of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.)

IBP today is also resolving in a separate administrative consent agreement certain EPA claims regarding IBP's Joslin, Illinois facility. As part of that settlement, IBP will pay an additional $200,000 to the EPA. IBP had already voluntarily made extensive environmental improvements at Joslin, investing considerable resources in new covered lagoons at the wastewater treatment plant and enhanced control devices to capture and destroy collected gases. Including Joslin, IBP has installed lagoon covers and controls at five plant locations, reflecting the company's commitment to clean air. The first installation was made in the early 1990s.

IBP has been the focus of numerous news reports and lawsuits regarding worker safety, environmental problems and humane slaughter of the cattle.

IBP annually spends more than $25 million on wastewater treatment, air pollution control and solid-waste treatment and disposal.

IBP Fresh Meats, based in Dakota Dunes, South Dakota, operates 11 beef plants and six pork plants in the U.S.

More in Environmental