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Tyson fined $2M for Monett plant violations

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U.S. Justice Department prosecutors followed up on Tyson Poultry Inc.’s 2017 guilty plea with a sentencing and $2 million fine related to violations of the Clean Water Act at its Monett plant.

The subsidiary of Springdale, Arkansas-based Tyson Foods Inc. (NYSE: TSN) pleaded guilty in September 2017 to a 2014 incident that led to an acidic liquid food supplement known as Alimet leaking into Clear Creek and adjoining waterways. Roughly 108,000 fish were reportedly killed during the incident.

The sentencing was handed down yesterday at the federal court in Springfield.

Don Ledford, spokesman for the U.S. attorney for the Western District of Missouri, said the sentencing was a formality as a judge had to approve the terms of Tyson’s guilty plea.

Under the terms of the guilty plea and sentencing, Tyson must pay a $2 million criminal fine, as well as $500,000 in remediation costs to the government, and serve two years of probation. Under the probation, the company is required to retain a third-party auditor to make sure it complies with the ruling and environmental regulations, according to a news release from the Justice Department.

“Good corporate practices are vital to protecting public health and our nation’s natural resources,” said Jeffrey Wood, acting assistant attorney for the Justice Department’s Environment & Natural Resources Division, in the release. “When corporate misconduct disregards human safety or the environment in violation of federal laws, the Department of Justice and (Environmental Protection Agency) stand ready to pursue all necessary legal relief, including criminal penalties, to ensure that these acts do not go unpunished.

“We hope that the outcome of this case will be a lesson for all companies that deal with dangerous wastes.”

In its guilty plea last year, Tyson took responsibility for the incident.

The Clean Water Act violations occurred when a tank at Tyson’s Aurora feed mill leaked Alimet into a secondary containment area. Tyson hired a contractor to remove the Alimet and bring it to the Monett plant, where some of the substance flowed into the city’s municipal wastewater treatment plant. There, it killed bacteria used to reduce ammonia before flowing into waterways.

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