(CN) – Chicken giant Tyson admitted Wednesday to violating the Clean Water Act by discharging an acidic chicken-feed supplement at a Missouri slaughter and processing plant, killing more than 100,000 fish.
According to the U.S. Department of Justice, the company used a liquid supplement in its chicken feed called Alimet, an acidic product with a pH level of less than one.
The tank that stored the Alimet leaked and it flowed into a containment area. Tyson then hired a contractor to remove the acidic substance and take it to the Monett plant, according to the DOJ.
But the in-house treatment system there wasn’t designed to treat the substance and some of the Alimet was leaked into Monett’s municipal waste water treatment plant.
From there, the government says the Alimet killed bacteria used to lower ammonia in discharges from the city’s treatment plant into a nearby creek, causing the deaths of about 108,000 fish.
Tyson agreed in its plea deal to a $2 million criminal fine and two years of probation. It will also pay $500,000 to restore waterways in the Monett area, focusing on the affected creek, and will implement environmental compliance programs, the DOJ said.
“Tyson’s admitted criminal conduct caused significant environmental damage, including a large-scale fish kill,” Acting Western Missouri U.S. Attorney Tom Larson said in a statement. “Today’s plea agreement not only holds Tyson accountable for its actions in Missouri, but requires the company to take steps to insure compliance with the Clean Water Act at its poultry facilities throughout the United States.”
Tyson is the nation’s largest chicken producer and is based in Springdale, Ark.
Company officials said in a statement that they “deeply regret the mistake that was made and have taken corrective action to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”
“We’re committed to doing better in all areas of our business, especially when it comes to protecting the environment,” the statement says. “Since the incident, we’ve conducted lessons learned training for all environmental managers in our poultry operations and have strengthened our environmental policies and procedures to help prevent similar mistakes.”