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Published May 05, 2010, 08:25 AM

Washington beef slaughterhouse to pay $750,000

YAKIMA, Wash. — A beef slaughterhouse in central Washington has agreed to pay a $750,000 penalty and install an estimated $3 million in equipment to resolve allegations that it violated the Clean Water Act, under a settlement agreement announced Tuesday by the Justice Department.

By: Shannon Dininny, Associated Press

YAKIMA, Wash. — A beef slaughterhouse in central Washington has agreed to pay a $750,000 penalty and install an estimated $3 million in equipment to resolve allegations that it violated the Clean Water Act, under a settlement agreement announced Tuesday by the Justice Department.

Washington Beef LLC operates the slaughterhouse about 20 miles south of Yakima in Toppenish. Washington Beef is owned by Boise, Idaho-based Agri Beef Co., a privately held company.

The Justice Department filed a complaint with the settlement agreement in U.S. District Court in Eastern Washington. The complaint alleges that Washington Beef discharged partially treated slaughterhouse wastes into nearby waterways without a permit and exceeded the level of pollutants allowed by its permit on numerous occasions.

The violations occurred between 2003 and 2009, the complaint said.

Water samples on Feb. 5, 2008, showed the slaughterhouse had discharged 180 times more fecal matter than allowed under a permit, Environmental Protection Agency spokesman Mark MacIntyre said.

EPA, rather than the state, has jurisdiction over wastewater from the slaughterhouse be-cause it is located on the Yakama Indian Reservation.

“We’re just pleased the case is being resolved and the water quality of the Yakima River and surrounding streams is being protected,” MacIntyre said.

Rick Stott, Agri Beef executive vice president, said wastewater went through the plant’s treatment system, then into a series of constructed wetlands. Between 500,000-700,000 gallons per day then went to the irrigation system to be applied to farmer’s fields in the arid Yakima Valley and had no detrimental water quality impact, Stott said.

The Justice Department said the company also will install five new pieces of wastewater equipment to expand the plant’s capacity to treat organic matter.

The Environmental Protection Agency estimates the purchases and changes will cost about $3 million.

Stott said the state-of-the-art improvements have been planned for three years. The company also plans to install a biodigester as part of its green technology efforts.

The settlement agreement is subject to a 30-day public comment period and approval by the federal court.

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