The Missouri processor that is the subject of a pollution lawsuit said that any release of slaughterhouse waste into a nearby creek years was unintentional.

"We have never intentionally had any discharge that went into the creek," said Fruitland American Meat president Peter Whisnant to the Southeast Missourian. The state’s Attorney General, Chris Koster, filed a lawsuit against the company last week, stating that the company allowed slaughterhouse waste to escape the company’s wastewater system on four occasions, resulting in the waste entering a tributary that flows into Cane Creek. The suit alleges that the pollution from the plant turned the water foamy and red, and in one incident killed more than 900 fish.

The company has been charged with several violations of the Missouri Clean Water Law, including water pollution; illegal discharge; failure to report breaches; failure to submit discharge monitoring reports; and failure to submit sample discharge.

Whisnant, who has run Fruitland American Meat with his family for 15 years, along with a Doniphan, Missouri, ranch, said the company may have had accidental discharges of waste on two occasions, but has not done what the suit alleges. Whisnant said the facility has recently halted operations and may have to lay off some of its 50 employees while it deals with the legal matter.

"It's hard enough for us small businesses to stay in business without the government coming down on us this way," he said.

Source: Southeast Missourian