EPA Region 3
Topic: JDS Souderton
Date: June 24 , 2010
David Sternberg: This week EPA and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania entered into an agreement with JBS Souderton Inc. resolving the company's violations of the federal Clean Water Act and the Pennsylvania Clean Streams Law at its beef processing plant in Bucks County Pennsylvania. The consent to decree requires JBS Souderton to improve operations and maintenance at the plant to reconstruct the systems collecting and conveying water to its wastewater treatment plant and pay a total of two million dollars in civil penalties to federal and state authorities.
Hello, I am David Sternberg from EPA’s mid Atlantic region. And this is Environment Matters, our series of environmental podcast. I'm here today with Andrew Seligman, senior environmental scientist, and enforcement officer with the U.S. EPA mid Atlantic region.
Andrew, why did the EPA and the state bring this case against JBS Souderton?
Andrew Seligman: Because JBS Souderton has had systemic long stern compliance issues which have resulted in significant environmental distress to the local environment.
David Sternberg: How did the problem of JBS Souderton come to the attention to of state and federal regulators?
Andrew Seligman: Well to the state of Pennsylvania's credit they were actually the first ones to recognize there was a problem back in 2000 where a lot of discharges and sometimes spills were occurring and the state of Pennsylvania decided to enforce the laws and get a new wastewater treatment plant, but we found out that wasn't the only problem.
David Sternberg: How will the settlement help protect public health and the environment?
Andrew Seligman: The settlement protects health and the public environment by significantly reducing pollutants such as fecal coli form as well as substance such as ammonia to the environment.
David Sternberg: What are the key benefits of this settlement?
Andrew Seligman: The key benefits clearly are the significant reductions in fecal coli form, sediment, some chemicals such as ammonia as well as a few other types of pollutants there by increasing the quality of the water above recreational use and also in some cases for drinking water.
David Sternberg: Prior to the settlement what have the state and federal authorities done to try and fix these things?
Andrew Seligman: Well as I said earlier, the state enforced against the company in the early 2000 to mid 2000 and required them, JBS to get a new wastewater treatment plant. But clearly that wasn't the only issue there were larger systemic issues at the facility.
David Sternberg: And what message do you think this case sends to the public and regulated community?
Andrew Seligman: Well it tells the public that EPA is doing its job, and watching and make sure that everybody is in compliance, to the regulated community, it says we will find you.
David Sternberg: Is there anything else that you want to say about this case?
Andrew Seligman: Well the regulated community will see the fact that the company is required to put $9.5 million worth of controls between the original settlement with the state as well as the joint state and federal latest settlement and a $2 million cash penalty which is a very significant message to the regulator community. The wastewater plant was installed due to a compliance order with the state of Pennsylvania. What we found out later was that more an additional three and a half million dollars worth of control equipment needed to be installed as well as some additions to the wastewater treatment plant in terms of operations and maintenance controls as well as efficiency. The total package is about $11.5 million.
David Sternberg: Thank you Andrew and thank you for joining us for Environment Matters, our series of Environment Podcast.