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EPA issues Clean Water Act Order to Perdue Farms, Inc., Citing Violations at Accomac, Va. Poultry Plants

Release Date: 9/25/2002
Contact Information: Roy Seneca (215) 814-5567

Contact: Roy Seneca (215) 814-5567
PHILADELPHIA – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has cited Perdue Farms, Inc., for water pollution violations at Perdue’s poultry processing and rendering plants in Accomac, Va.

The EPA compliance order, which resulted from a joint investigation by EPA and the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), cites Perdue for violations of ammonia effluent limits, inadequate maintenance and operation of its wastewater treatment plant, and failure to properly notify DEQ about the discharge, bypass, and physical changes at the plant. The order also requires Perdue to monitor wastewater, prevent unpermitted discharges and promptly report violations.

“EPA will continue to work closely with Virginia to ensure that this plant complies fully with federal and state regulations designed to protect Virginia’s waterways and public health,” said Donald S. Welsh, regional administrator for EPA’s mid-Atlantic region.

Under a Clean Water Act permit issued by the Virginia DEQ, Perdue is authorized to discharge treated wastewater into Parker Creek, a waterway emptying into Metompkin Bay. The permit sets monitoring levels and requires Perdue to treat wastewater prior to discharge so that pollution does not exceed specified levels, called effluent limits. The effluent limits are designed to protect the water quality of Parker Creek, which EPA and Virginia have identified as an impaired waterway.

Perdue exceeded effluent limits for ammonia on numerous occasions this summer, reportedly due to improperly operated and maintained treatment equipment. Perdue’s monitoring reports showed ammonia levels up to 30 times the permitted value. Last year, DEQ assessed a $20,000 penalty against Perdue for similar ammonia effluent violations occurring in 2000.

To prevent further violations, the company diverted the wastewater discharge to a holding pond, and stopped the flow to Parker Creek. Over Labor Day weekend, the capacity of the storage pond became filled and partially-treated wastewater was released from the wastewater treatment plant to Parker Creek. The release occurred for nearly 30 hours, of which half of that time was unmonitored. The monitored portion of the release indicated high levels of ammonia and suspended solids.

In an August 28 inspection, EPA and DEQ discovered that Perdue was running out of storage capacity in its holding pond, yet was still in full-production mode. At that time, the EPA inspector directed the company to take measures to prevent a discharge in violation of its permit.

The EPA order requires Perdue to:
• Collect visual and representative water quality monitoring data for all wastewater discharged to Parker Creek;
• Notify EPA and DEQ of instances of non-compliance immediately;
• Provide information as to the causes of non-compliance, actions necessary to be taken for Perdue to return to compliance, and the cost associated with those actions;
• Ensure adequate volume in the ponds that are holding partially-treated effluent;
• Prevent unauthorized discharges from a stormwater pond;
• Notify DEQ of all physical alterations and additions made at the facility.