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EPA issues Administrative Penalty Order to Perdue Farms, Inc., For Water Pollution Violations at Va. Poultry Plant

Release Date: 11/27/2002
Contact Information: Roy Seneca (215) 814-5567

Contact: Roy Seneca (215) 814-5567
PHILADELPHIA – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has issued an administrative penalty order to Perdue Farms, Inc. for water pollution violations at Perdue’s poultry processing and rendering plant in Accomac, Va.

EPA is seeking a $137,500 penalty for the excessive pollutants that were discharged to Parker Creek this summer, as well as for failure to properly operate and maintain its wastewater treatment plant, take representative samples, and monitor wastewater being discharged. The order resulted from a joint investigation by EPA and the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ).

The penalty order is a followup to a compliance order issued in September that put Perdue on notice of the violations and required it to return to compliance. Since the compliance order, Perdue has submitted additional monitoring data and has been in weekly communication with EPA and DEQ regarding the steps being taken to return to compliance. EPA has reviewed the information and determined that Perdue should be held accountable for the seriousness of the violations. The penalty being sought is to account for the risk of endangerment to the environment and the economic benefit of the company for not taking adequate measures to prevent violations that were known to be problematic at the Facility.

Under a Clean Water Act permit issued by the Virginia DEQ, Perdue is authorized to discharge treated wastewater into Parker Creek, a waterway emptying into Metompkin Bay. The permit sets monitoring levels and requires Perdue to treat wastewater prior to discharge so that pollution does not exceed specified levels, called effluent limits. The effluent limits are designed to protect the water quality of Parker Creek, which EPA and Virginia have identified as an impaired waterway.

Perdue exceeded effluent limits for ammonia on numerous occasions this summer, reportedly due to improperly operated and maintained treatment equipment. Perdue’s monitoring reports showed ammonia levels up to 30 times the permitted value. Last year, DEQ assessed a $20,000 penalty against Perdue for similar ammonia effluent violations occurring in 2000.

To prevent further violations, the company diverted the wastewater discharge to a holding pond, and stopped the flow to Parker Creek. Over Labor Day weekend, the capacity of the storage pond became filled and partially-treated wastewater was released from the wastewater treatment plant to Parker Creek. The release occurred for nearly 30 hours, of which half of that time was unmonitored. The monitored portion of the release indicated high levels of ammonia and suspended solids.

In an August 28 inspection, EPA and DEQ discovered that Perdue was running out of storage capacity in its holding pond, yet was still in full-production mode. At that time, the EPA inspector directed the company to take measures to prevent a discharge in violation of its permit.

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