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Groups Sue The EPA For Allowing Slaughterhouses To Pollute US Waterways

Animal waste lagoon in North Carolina
Bob Nichols, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service
Animal waste lagoon in North Carolina

On this edition of Your Call, we'll get an update on a lawsuit challenging the Environmental Protection Agency for failing to update national standards to regulate water pollution from slaughterhouses.

In 2018, slaughterhouses released more than 55 million pounds of toxic substances directly into the nation’s rivers and streams, according to a report from Environment America. Wastewater from meat and poultry processing facilities contains bacteria, viruses and parasites that can make water unsafe for drinking, recreation or irrigation. Pathogens commonly found in slaughterhouse wastewater have been linked to gastrointestinal diseases, bloody diarrhea, liver damage, and in some cases death.

The waste from these farms is pooled in large lagoons. The excess is dumped into the water supply or sprayed into the air, which creates lingering health problems for those who live nearby, mostly low-income people and people of color.


Kelsey Eberly, senior staff attorney with the Animal Legal Defense Fund

John Rumpler, clean water program director for Environment America

Web Resources:

Animal Legal Defense Fund: Holding Slaughterhouses Accountable for Water Pollution

Environment America: Slaughterhouses Are Polluting Our Waterways

Environmental Integrity Project: Three Quarters of Large U.S. Slaughterhouses Violate Water Pollution Permits

In These Times: A Wisconsin Hog Farm Would Produce 9.4 Million Gallons of Manure a Year. Nearby Residents Live in Fear.

Reuters: How four big companies control the US beef industry

Rose Aguilar has been the host of Your Call since 2006. She became a regular media roundtable guest in 2001. In 2019, the San Francisco Press Club named Your Call the best public affairs program. In 2017, The Nation named it the most valuable local radio show.