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Business and economy news and issues in the Ozarks.

Settlement Reached After MO Attorney General Sues Tyson

Michele Skalicky

Tyson Foods will pay a total of $540,000 in penalties, damages and environmental improvements stemming from a fish kill in Barry County.  KSMU's Michele Skalicky has more.

Missouri attorney general, Chris Koster was in Springfield today to announce the settlement with the Arkansas-based company.  According to Koster, beginning May 16, 2014, the Tyson Foods facility at Monett discharged wastewater from the company's Aurora facility into the city of Monett's sewer system.  The discharge contained a highly acidic animal feed supplement, which caused the city's biological wastewater treatment system to fail.  Contaminated water containing a high level of ammonia flowed into Clear Creek killing at least 100,000 fish. 

Koster sued Tyson last June.

"Today's settlement requires Tyson to pay significant penalties to hold the company accountable for the damage that occurred that week, to contribute to the restoration of the damaged natural resources in the area and to take proactive steps to ensure that something like this does not happen again," he said.

Under the agreement, Tyson will pay the state of Missouri nearly $163,000 for natural resource damages.  The company will pay $110,000 in civil penalties and will reimburse MO DNR $11,000 for its costs and expenses related to the spill and the MO Conservation Department $36,000. 

Tyson will also pay to replace a bridge over Clear Creek at Farm Rd. 1050 in Lawrence County that has prevented fish from moving freely in the stream.

"The new bridge will allow fish to move freely upstream to reproduce and disperse, which should increase the diversity and population of aquatic life in the area," he said.

The James River Basin Partnership will get $10,000 from the settlement, and if the bridge replacement is less than $210,000, JRBP will get the remaining money.

“The agreement gives the state of Missouri the authority to inspect the Monett and Aurora facilities at any time to check for compliance with the law and monitor the progress of all activities required under the agreement,” he said.

According to Koster, Tyson has taken steps to ensure the mistake doesn’t happen again including:

  • New requirements and practices to prevent, monitor and respond to animal feed releases at its corporate feed mills

  • Additional hazardous waste and water discharge training for personnel at the Monett and Aurora facilities

  • A new company-wide environmental operating procedure that focuses on feed mill chemical storage practices

  • A summit of managers at all Tyson’s Missouri facilities to conduct a comprehensive review of environmental issues at those facilities

In a statement Tyson says, "we deeply regret the incident in Clear Creek, near Monett, Missouri, this past May. We've worked diligently and cooperatively with state and other authorities to make things right, including entering into a settlement agreement with the state. Tyson Foods' core values include serving as stewards of the environment -- in Missouri and every community where we operate -- and we take that obligation seriously."

Michele Skalicky has worked at KSMU since the station occupied the old white house at National and Grand. She enjoys working on both the announcing side and in news and has been the recipient of statewide and national awards for news reporting. She likes to tell stories that make a difference. Michele enjoys outdoor activities, including hiking, camping and leisurely kayaking.