Here's How Tyson Foods' Ammonia Waste Killed All the Fish in an Entire Creek
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...