East Texas chicken plants polluting rivers, lakes with oxygen-sucking contaminants, group says

That’s in addition to harmful bacteria and pathogens that wastewater from animal processing plants can contain, which sometimes find their way into the public water supply.
In a report released earlier this month, the Environmental Integrity Project, a Washington, D.C.-based advocacy group, identified two processing plants operated in the region by Tyson Farms and Pilgrim’s Pride as particularly heavy polluters.
“This is just wrong.
It’s a public waterway, not a drainage ditch for a bunch of factories,” Schaffer said.
The EIP report found that in 2017, the Pilgrim’s Pride facility in Mount Pleasant pushed an average of 1,755 pounds of nitrogen each day into tributaries of Lake O’ the Pines, a popular fishing and boating destination that’s also a source of drinking water for several local communities, including Longview.
The plant’s state environmental permit shows that before the Pilgrim’s discharges ever reach Lake O’ the Pines, the polluted wastewater traverses tributaries that already have been deemed vulnerable by Texas’ environmental regulatory agency.
The discharges first flow through Tankersley Creek, which is “impaired” because of pathogens; they then run into Big Cypress Creek, which has a high bacteria load, before reaching the Lake O’ the Pines.
TCEQ has identified the Pilgrim’s Pride plant as the largest source of phosphorus and nitrogen in the Lake O’ the Pines watershed, contributing 88 percent and 73 percent of phosphorus and nitrogen loads, respectively.
The EIP report found that Tyson’s Center facility violated its Clean Water Act permit 12 times in 2016 and 2017, incurring an $80,000 state fine for effluent violations.
At the same time, the Clean Water Act, the landmark law that governs discharges of wastewater from processing plants, is under attack by the Trump administration, which this year sought to roll back the regulation.

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