Conservation groups to sue EPA over slaughterhouse pollution

Twelve groups have launched a lawsuit against the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), over pollution for slaughterhouses.

The groups, including Environment America, Environment Integrity Project, Earthjustice and others say the EPA has allowed firms to continue to use outdated pollution-control technologies leading to the contamination of waterways.

John Rumpler, Clean Water Program director for Environment America said:

“Some of the world’s largest meat companies are dumping huge volumes of pollution into America’s rivers -- pollution that contributes to toxic algae and puts our drinking water at risk.
“EPA must ensure that those who produce our food stop polluting our water.”

The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit in Richmond.

2016 Environment America Research & Policy report found that over a 5-year period from 2010 to 2014, five large agribusiness companies discharged more than 250 million pounds of toxic pollution from their facilities into America’s waterways.

The federal Clean Water Act requires EPA to set industry-wide water pollution standards for slaughterhouses and to review those standards each year to decide whether updates are appropriate to keep pace with advances in pollution-control technology.

Earlier this year, the EPA announced its decision that it would not revise the federal water pollution standards for slaughterhouses, and that it would not create standards for plants that send their wastewater to sewage plants before discharging into rivers or streams.

Earthjustice attorney Alexis Andiman said:

“Some of EPA’s technological requirements for slaughterhouses date from the mid-1970s.
“Technology has changed a lot since then, and EPA needs to catch up. EPA’s failure to update pollution standards for slaughterhouses is illegal—and it allows a major industry to continue cutting corners at the expense of communities and the environment.”

An EPA spokesperson told The Guardian the agency does not comment on pending litigation.

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