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EPA reaches consent agreement with Perdue Farms

Release Date: 4/9/2003
Contact Information: Roy Seneca 215-814-5567

Contact: Roy Seneca 215-814-5567
PHILADELPHIA – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has reached a consent agreement with Perdue Farms, Incorporated that requires the company to pay an $80,000 penalty for alleged water pollution violations involving wastewater discharges from its Accomac, Va. processing plant.

The alleged violations were discovered during a joint investigation last summer by EPA and the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ).

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, reportedly due to malfunctions of aerobic treatment equipment. Perdue’s monitoring reports showed ammonia discharges up to 30 times the permitted level. To prevent further violations, the company diverted the wastewater discharge to a holding pond, and stopped the flow to Parker Creek.

During the 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. During the Labor Day weekend, millions of gallons of insufficiently treated wastewater was discharged when storage capacity was exceeded.

EPA ordered Perdue to return to compliance, and Perdue promptly did so. Perdue worked cooperatively with EPA to monitor the performance of the wastewater treatment plant. Perdue has presented to DEQ its plans to upgrade their plant to prevent future problems that are problematic during hot, summer days. Furthermore, Perdue has implemented engineering and operation controls that reduce the potential for violations this summer.

As part of the settlement, Perdue Farms neither admitted nor denied liability for the alleged violations, but agreed to comply with all applicable Clean Water Act requirements.