Chicken leftovers Tyson lawsuit: State seeks to stop waste dumping by poultry processor on Worcester County farm.

July 25, 1998

TYSON FOODS Inc. paid a record $6 million federal fine in May for polluting a stream from its Berlin plant. But the poultry giant balked at paying a state fine for dumping thousands of tons of chicken waste and contaminated sludge from that plant on a 100-acre farm it owns in Worcester County.

So the state sued Tyson for a half-million dollars, after a round of failed negotiations. The state says the company has dumped 26,000 tons of poultry waste and plant sludge since January 1997, spreading the polluting mess thickly, even on frozen ground, without controls. The waste was even injected into the soil, the suit charges.

Further, Tyson said in May it was obeying all environmental laws, while continuing the dumping, despite an April warning from the state. But this case raises questions beyond the level of Tyson's good faith.

Why did it take so long for the state to act on a firm that was already under close investigation? Why did the alleged dumping occur repeatedly within sight of the state police? Why did Tyson's farming neighbors wait until April to raise the issue?

The egregious excessive dumping of chicken waste on open land, causing polluted runoff in waterways, must be halted. Fine or not, Tyson must pay the price for irresponsible waste disposal.

Pub Date: 7/25/98

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