Tyson Foods withdraws plea for relaxed pollution limits

October 23, 1997|By Timothy B. Wheeler | Timothy B. Wheeler,SUN STAFF

Saying it was all a misunderstanding, Tyson Foods yesterday withdrew its request to relax Virginia pollution limits for a tributary of the Pocomoke Sound where one of its poultry processing plants discharges wastewater.

Tyson President Donald "Buddy" Wray wrote Virginia's director of environmental quality after news reports that the state had proposed allowing the company's plant in Temperanceville to discharge up to 2 1/2 times more ammonia into Sandy Bottom Branch.

The state's proposal drew fire from officials of the Environmental Protection Agency and the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, who contended that the ammonia would add to nutrient pollution problems in Pocomoke Sound, which was closed in the summer after fish kills were blamed on Pfiesteria piscicida.

State officials said that more ammonia would not harm fish and other aquatic life in Sandy Bottom Branch, based on a company study submitted in 1992. But Allison P. Wiedeman with EPA's Chesapeake Bay office in Annapolis wrote a letter two weeks ago calling the proposal "nothing less than ludicrous," given the recent Pfiesteria outbreak.

Tyson spokesman Archie Schaffer said the Arkansas-based company no longer wants Virginia's ammonia limit relaxed. The request was made 10 years ago by Holly Farms, which owned the Eastern Shore plant until Tyson bought out the competing chicken producer in 1989.

No need exists to ease the regulation because the plant has been meeting its discharge limits for years, Schaffer said.

The Tyson spokesman said top corporate officials were unaware until recently that the request was still pending, though Virginia had slated a public hearing in December on the proposed change.

Pub Date: 10/23/97

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