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Published April 15, 2009, 07:30 AM

Arsenic forces closure of Buffalo Lake meat plant

A beef slaughtering plant in Buffalo Lake has been forced to close because its water contained high levels of arsenic, and the plant owner couldn't afford to fix the problem. More than 200 workers at North Star Beef Inc. lost their jobs when the plant closed last week.

By: Associated Press,

BUFFALO LAKE, Minn. — A beef slaughtering plant in Buffalo Lake has been forced to close because its water contained high levels of arsenic, and the plant owner couldn't afford to fix the problem.

More than 200 workers at North Star Beef Inc. lost their jobs when the plant closed last week.

Owner William Gilger says he couldn't afford to meet U.S. Environmental Protection Agency restrictions that took effect in 2006. And he says banks wouldn't lend him money.

About two-thirds of Minnesota's groundwater has arsenic. Most of it occurs naturally. The amount of arsenic considered safe for drinking is 10 parts per billion. Gilger says the Minnesota Department of Health tested the plant's water last summer and found 18.4 parts per billion of arsenic.

The plant has had other problems too. In recent months it fell behind in payments to suppliers and it had a fire that caused at least $1.1 million in damage.

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