Tyson changes its corporate mind

The Blount Countian reported last week that on Monday the Alabama Department of Environmental Management posted an application on their website from Tyson Foods, Inc. outlining Tyson’s request for approval to increase its waste water discharge at its Blountsville chicken processing plant. The proposal would also change the discharge point from Graves Creek to the Locust Fork River at King’s Bend, a site that is not far up river from the new King’s Bend Scenic Overlook Park at the old U.S. 231 bridge in Cleveland, which officially opened Monday.

On Thursday, Tyson officials from the company’s headquarters in Arkansas met with Blount County Commission Chairman and Probate Judge Chris Green, along with Sam Howell and other members of Friends of the Locust Fork River.

Howell said he was surprised when the Tyson representatives told them they were not going to follow through on the proposed plan. He and Green both said they were told that not only was Tyson going to abandon its plan to increase the discharge rate, but the company was going to upgrade the treatment process at the plant and attempt to lower the nitrogen and phosphorus content of the treated water going into Graves Creek.

Green, who has been in several meetings with Tyson officials over the last year, had expressed his concerns about the proposal to the company’s delegates. “It all has worked out really well,” Green said about Tyson’s change of plans.

Derek Burleson, a Tyson spokesperson, issued the following statement to The Blount Countian late Friday:

“Our application with ADEM is part of a standard process seeking the renewal of our existing wastewater treatment permit for the Blountsville facility. There is no increase to treatment capacity or production associated with the application. Our original request to ADEM for the ability to change the location of discharge will be withdrawn due to feedback from local officials.”

Despite this development, members of FLFR and Black Warrior Riverkeeper, an environmental watchdog organization that is concerned about the Locust Fork River because it is part of the Black Warrior River Basin, still encourages people to submit comments to ADEM about their concerns. Comments will be accepted at ADEM until July 12.

The application can be viewed on ADEM’s website at www.adem.state. al.us/newsEvents/notices/jun19/6npdes2. The Black Warrior Riverkeeper organization can also be contacted for more information and assistance with comments by telephone, 205-458-0095, or through their website, www.black warriorriver.org.