News Feature | June 19, 2014

Tyson Accused Of Leaking Toxic Chemical, Killing Fish

Sara Jerome

By Sara Jerome


In recent weeks, Clear Creek in southwest Missouri became the site of a "fish kill investigation," as OzarksFirst put it.

Locals noticed in May that the creek was filled with dead fish. State officials say contaminated wastewater was to blame. 

An investigative report by the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) said that "Tyson Foods leaked ammonia into a creek killing thousands of fish," Riverfront Times reported

DNR announced that it is accusing Tyson of violations and sending the issue to the state Attorney General's office. 

The chemical that killed the fish is Alimet, an ammonia-based substance that Tyson uses in the feed for its chickens, according to the Joplin Globe. Skip Schaller, utilities superintendent at the wastewater treatment plant, explained how Alimet made its way into the creek. 

"Schaller said Alimet, because of its extremely low pH level, is not something that can be treated by [the wastewater treatment] plant. The plant’s operators were not informed by Tyson Foods that the chemical was being placed into their system," the Globe reported. 

"The result was extremely deadly," Riverfront Times reported in an earlier piece. 

A simple, but major, mistake may be to blame. 

"According to an email from Tyson to the DNR, on May 16, two vacuum trucks containing the water and Alimet mixture drove to the Monett [wastewater treatment] facility," Riverfront Times reported.  

"One of the drivers told the pretreatment operator there that his truck contained 'animal fat.'

The pretreatment operator then began disposing of what he thought was animal fat, but eventually noticed that whatever he was pumping wasn't animal fat," the report said. 

Check out Water Online's Wastewater Treatment Solution Center.

Image credit: "DSCF1932," jaqian © 2007, used under an Attribution 2.0 Generic license:

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