The Environmental Integrity Project reviewed EPA records for 98 large U.S. slaughterhouses and found that three-quarters of them discharged toxic waste directly into nearby streams and rivers, violating pollution control permits.
The EPA records show that 250,000 gallons per day were dumped into waterways from January 2016 through June 2018 and that 74 of the 98 slaughterhouses had exceeded their permit limits for nitrogen, fecal bacteria, and other pollutants.
Additionally, more than half the slaughterhouses had five violations, and a third had at least 10 violations. Some of these slaughterhouses are dumping as much nitrogen pollution as small cities!
Eric Schaeffer, executive director of the Environmental Integrity Project, said in a statement:
State environmental agencies need to start cracking down on and penalizing these flagrant violations of the federal Clean Water Act. And EPA needs to step in and set stronger national water pollution standards for meat processing plants.
The records also rank the worst polluters in the U.S. by total nitrogen released and name the JBS pork processing plant in Beardstown, Illinois, as the most polluting slaughterhouse in the U.S. last year. The slaughterhouse released an average 1,849 pounds of nitrogen a day into a nearby stream leading to the Illinois River. According to the EPA, that’s equivalent to the nitrogen in raw sewage from a city of 79,000 people.
The meat industry has a record of egregious water pollution. In fact, animal excrement and other agricultural runoff from large-scale farms have polluted nearly one-third of rivers in the U.S.
In addition to destroying waterways, toxins from factory farms contaminate our drinking water. A report from Environmental Working Group found that systems supplying drinking water to millions of Americans contain dangerously high levels of nitrates, which have been linked to increased risk of certain cancers.
But factory farms don’t just devastate the environment and compromise our health—they cause immense suffering for billions of animals.
Pigs, cows, chickens, and other farmed animals face unthinkable horrors: cruel caged confinement; brutal mutilations; and bloody, merciless deaths.
Don’t believe us? Just watch this recent Mercy For Animals undercover investigation at a JBS pig factory farm that exposed workers kicking and punching animals in their faces, ripping out the testicles of baby pigs without any pain relief, and violently smashing baby pigs headfirst against the ground to kill them.
The single best thing we can do to protect animals, ourselves, and the planet from the cruel and destructive factory farming industry is to eliminate our consumption of meat and other animal products altogether.
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