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Tyson Foods sued by Missouri for unlawful dumping near Monett

Springdale-based Tyson Foods is trying to make amends for unlawful dumping of untreated industrial wastewater into a southwest Missouri stream that killed at an estimated 100,000 fish.

But this week the Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster said he has filed a lawsuit against the meat giant who operates a chicken processing facility in Monett that last month illegally discharged wastewater containing a high acidic animal feed supplement into that city’s sewer system.

Koster said the discharge caused the city's biological wastewater treatment system to fail, and contaminated water containing a high level of ammonia flowed into Clear Creek, leading to the fish kill.

"Missouri's waterways are among our state's most important natural resources," Koster said. "Tyson's conduct threatened the vitality of Clear Creek as a resource for Southwest Missouri. Tyson Foods must be held accountable for dumping pollution into the waterways of Southwest Missouri, and this conduct must not happen again."

Koster's lawsuit includes six counts against Tyson for pollution of state waters and violations of Missouri's hazardous waste laws. He is seeking penalties against Tyson, compensation for the damage to the stream, and reimbursement for the state's costs in investigating the incident.

Tyson Foods prides itself for strong and responsible corporate citizenship and publicly apologized for the mishap in a local newspaper ad.

"We’re sorry about what happened and have started trying to make things right," Tyson spokesman Worth Sparkman told The City Wire.

"Through newspaper ads, we’re publicly apologizing to the people of Monett and Pierce City. We’ve met with some community leaders and we’ve asked to meet with the Missouri Department of Natural Resources to see how we can help improve Clear Creek," he said. "We’ve also taken a hard look at how we manage environmental matters at Monett and are improving our processes because we don’t want this to ever happen again."

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The ad notes that Tyson can not reverse what has happened, but the meat company said it plans to make it right.

“Water is a critical natural resource and we work to protect it at all of our locations ... We’ll be looking at opportunities to partner with non-government organizations that work on ecology projects in Missouri to address issues in the creek. As we learn more and have these discussions, we’ll then be able to better determine how we can help resolve these issues. We’re committed to making amends,” Tyson management noted the public apology which ran in the local newspapers following the accident.

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