Tyson Foods leaked ammonia into a creek killing thousands of fish in southwest Missouri, and the Department of Natural Resources has released an investigative report on how that happened.
The DNR also officially announced it is accusing Tyson of several violations and the matter has been sent to the Attorney General's office.
When residents of the Monett area noticed dead fish floating up and down Clear Creek, it didn't take long for city and state officials to figure out what happened: ammonia from the nearby Tyson plant got into the water and resulted in a "100 percent kill," according to Monett officials.
According to the DNR report, it began with a chemical leak at a Tyson feed plant in Aurora, about 13 miles east of Monett. The ammonia-based chemical Alimet was leaking into one of its containments and, per company protocol, the water was taken to its Monett facility to get "properly treated" and eventually dumped into the municipal sewage system.
What happened next was a good ol' fashion screw-up. According to an email from Tyson to the DNR, on May 16, two vacuum trucks containing the water and Alimet mixture drove to the Monett facility. One of the drivers told the pretreatment operator there that his truck contained "animal fat." The pretreatment operator then began disposing of what he thought was animal fat, but eventually noticed that whatever he was pumping wasn't animal fat.
Tyson says it was no more than 10 minutes before they realized that it was pumping large amounts of Alimet into the City of Monett's wastewater treatment facility (WWTF). But the city's WWTF wasn't equipped to handle however much ammonia was sent to it within those 10 minutes, so when it discharged that water into Clear Creek, there was plenty of ammonia -- enough to kill just about every living organism in the creek.
According to the report, the discharge caused "operational issues at the WWTF and violations of permitted effluent limits for ammonia from May 19 through May 29, 2014."
It continues: "Consequently, Monett Municipal WWTF discharged improperly treated wastewater to a tributary of Clear Creek resulting in a fish kill from downstream of the WWTF effluent to Clear Creek near highway 97 bridge in Pierce City as determined by department staff and MDC staff. At least four miles of Clear Creek were documented to be affected from the discharge."
The DNR has formally accused Tyson of several violations. But it also gave the City of Monett several violations, as well.
Click on the next page to read about the violations and see the whole investigative report...
The DNR says Tyson caused an interference of "publicly owned treatment works" and violated several sections of Missouri's Clean Water Law. Here's the letter from the DNR to Tyson:
But Tyson gets to share the blame with the City of Monett and its taxpayers as the DNR says that, since it was Monett's WWTF that ultimately dumped the ammonia-filled water into the creek, the city violated several parts of the Missouri Clean Water Law:
From May 19, 2014 to May 29, 2014, the City of Monett failed to comply with the ammonia effluent limits contained in Part "A" of Missouri State Operating Permit (MSOP) number MO-021440 which is a violation of Missouri Clean Water Law Sections 644.051.1(3) and 644.076.1, RSMo.
The City of Monett failed to comply with special conditions 7 (3) and (4) of Missouri State Operating Permit (MSOP) number MO0021440 which is a violation of Missouri Clean Water Law Section 644.076.1, RSMo.
The City of Monett failed to operate and maintain facilities to comply with the Missouri Clean Water Law and applicable permit conditions which is a violation of Missouri Clean Water Law Sections 644.051.1(3) and 644.076.1, RSMo.
On or before May 23, 2014 through May 27, 2014, the City of Monett caused pollution to a tributary of Clear Creek and Clear Creek, waters of the state, resulting in a fish kill which is a violation of Missouri Clean Water Law Sections 644.051.1(1) and 644.076.1, RSMo.
DNR spokesperson Gena Terlizzi tells Daily RFT that the matter has been sent to the state attorney general's office and any further action will be determined by them. Here's the whole DNR report:
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