Kiryas Joel slaughterhouse fined $330,000

Posted on 24 October 2014 by Josh Green

RecordOL

By Chris McKenna
Times Herald-Record

Federal authorities have ordered the operators of a Kiryas Joel slaughterhouse to pay a $330,000 fine for repeatedly polluting the Ramapo River with chicken guts and parts that wash out of the plant and into a nearby sewage treatment plant run by Orange County.

KJSlaughterhouseThe U.S. Attorney’s Office and Environmental Protection Agency announced the penalty on Thursday, releasing a 20-page complaint outlining violations of the Clean Water Act and a consent decree that simultaneously settled the case against the Kiryas Joel Poultry Processing Plant and Kiryas Joel Meat Market. The agreement with the two businesses outlines steps they must take to tighten the monitoring of discharges and prevent further problems.

“From disposing of chicken parts and fats directly into storm drains and sewers, to discharging animal waste into Ramapo River tributaries, this poultry processing plant has a long history of violating the Clean Water Act,” EPA Regional Administrator Judith Enck said in statement. “This legal agreement and fine will help protect the Ramapo River.”

The fine was the culmination of years of complaints about the slaughterhouse, which has become a major supplier of kosher poultry for the region since opening in 2004. It now processes 30,000 chickens a day and about 1,500 turkeys every two weeks, according to the complaint. The massive amounts of water used to clean the fowl carcasses – as much as 450,000 gallons per day, authorities said – generates a tide of waste-water that has allegedly strained the nearby treatment plant, which is owned by the Village of Kiryas Joel and run by the county. Authorities say those flows have caused the sewer plant to violate its discharge permit and allow untreated waste to enter the Ramapo.

Chaim Oberlander, general manager for Kiryas Joel Poultry, issued a statement on Thursday saying the “past environmental issues” cited in the complaint were “inadvertent and sporadic,” had ended with improvements completed three years ago, and didn’t involve toxic pollutants or harm the environment. He said the company had settled the case with federal authorities to avoid costly litigation.

“The company is proud of its environmental compliance record, and looks forward to continuing to produce the best kosher poultry in the region,” Oberlander said.

The slaughterhouse has an intermediate facility that removes contaminants from its waste before sending it to the sewer plant. Federal officials say that on multiple occasions between 2007 and 2010, that pretreatment facility overflowed, sending untreated or partially treated waste into storm drains, and from there into a brook and then a Ramapo tributary. They also say that “raw chicken effluent” and 4,500 gallons of waste-water spilled at the site on two occasions in 2012, and that the facility’s sludge tank overflowed shortly thereafter.

The EPA inspected the slaughterhouse in 2010 and found that areas in and around the storm drains outside “were contaminated with process waste including chicken parts,” that roads were contaminated with salt and that “bags of salt were broken and left exposed to the elements,” allowing salt to wash into storm drains.

Last year, the Orange County Water Authority reported highly elevated salinity in the Ramapo tributary. A previous county report had indicated the slaughterhouse uses 14 tons of salt each day to make the chicken kosher, recovering about 10 tons for reuse and discharging 4 tons in the waste-water.

cmckenna@th-record.com

– See more at: http://www.recordonline.com/article/20141024/NEWS/141029704#sthash.isRqtxvd.dpuf

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