North Carolina Poultry Plant Convicted of Water Pollution

A federal jury found House of Raeford Farms Inc., the owner and operator of a poultry slaughtering and processing facility located in Raeford, North Carolina guilty of ten counts of knowing violations of the Clean Water Act.

Federal officials alleged that House of Raeford allowed plant employees to bypass the facility’s pretreatment system and send its untreated wastewater directly to the city of Raeford’s wastewater treatment plant, without notifying city officials.

They also alleged that House of Raeford failed to prevent employees from sending thousands of gallons of wastewater into a pretreatment system that did not have the capacity to adequately treat the wastewater before it was discharged to the city plant.

The untreated wastewater that was discharged directly to the city plant was contaminated with waste from processing operations, including blood, grease and body parts from slaughtered turkeys.

A House of Raeford former employee admitted that the facility would continue to “kill turkeys” despite being warned that the unauthorized bypasses had an adverse impact on the city’s wastewater treatment plant.

The city plant was responsible for treating industrial, commercial and residential wastewater before it was discharged to Rockfish Creek in Hoke County.

The bypasses and failure to report them violated House of Raeford’s pretreatment permit as well as the city’s sewer use ordinance.

Many of the bypasses took place while House of Raeford was subject to a consent order with the city that required it to construct a new pretreatment system and comply with all requirements of its pretreatment permit.

A number of the bypasses were recorded in log books kept by House of Raeford Inc. wastewater operators, and were never revealed to the city.

House of Raeford Inc. faces a maximum fine of $500,000 or twice the gain or loss resulting from the offenses, whichever is greater, per count.

Sentencing has been scheduled for November 28, 2012.

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