BV Supervisor asks why DNR has never fined the company
An estimated 2,000 gallons of wastewater escaped the Tyson Fresh Meat plant and flowed into Storm Lake early Tuesday morning.
Buena Vista County Supervisor Jim Gustafson said that the company owes the community for the damage, and wondered why the pork plant hasn't been fined for spills.
Kim Johnson reported the spill to the Buena Vista County board of supervisors Tuesday, and the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, after investigating the incident, sent samples of contaminated lake water to Iowa City for testing.
According to a press release from the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, employees at the plant noticed water running into a storm sewer at 6:05 a.m., apparently caused by a plugged bar grate that caused wastewater to overflow from a pit in the plant's grit and hog handling area. The overflow went into the city storm sewer system that discharges into the lake at the Flindt Drive and Lakeshore Avenue outfall.
The release was stopped at 6:10 a.m. , the DNR said.
According to the DNR press release, the plant has a curbed containment area designed to contain these types of releases, but driveway gravel had been pushed up to curb level in the area during snow removal, allowing the wastewater to flow over the curb and outside the containment area. The wastewater then traveled down the street into the storm sewer intake.
Tyson employees used sandbags to contain the wastewater while the problem was being identified and repaired, the DNR said. Plant employees also used sand to clean up wastewater from the roadway and that has since been removed.
The DNR said that Tyson reported that its employees have removed gravel from along the curb so that the containment area functions properly.
According to the DNR environmental specialist, Julie Sievers, the large volume of water in the lake will help dilute the wastewater.
"The cold water temperatures will also help minimize the impact on the the lake," Sievers said. "Samples have been collected and are being sent to the University of Iowa Hygienic Laboratory for analysis. We are still evaluating internally what will be made of this release."
Jim Gustafson, a member of the Buena Vista County board of supervisors, said Wednesday that he was disappointed this has happened again.
"They had a big spill last summer," Gustafson said. "And now this - that's the kind of thing that gives our city a bad image.
"They really owe the community an apology. It would be nice if they put a sizable donation toward the lake project."
Sievers said told the Pilot-Tribune Wednesday that Tyson made a supplemental environmental project after the summer 2003 spill.
"The DNR sees that as the same as paying a fine to the state," she said. "They put money toward an environmental project, in this case it was the Lake Protection Association."
When asked what would happen if a spill occurred after the $28 million destination park project was completed on the lakefront, Sievers said the DNR would follow procedure.
"We would look at the time of year and if it there was a lot of lake use, we would discourage people from immediate contact with the area of the spill," she said. "We would do additional sampling and respond appropriately - by testing and by ."
Gustafson said that he was unsure about fines but said he knew that if a farmers spilled manure in a creek, they were fined. "I wonder if someone isn't getting special treatment," he said.