Statement: EPA makes right moves in updating slaughterhouse and PFAS pollution standards

Media Contacts

Announcements mark key milestone to protect water and health

Environment America Research and Policy Center

WASHINGTON — In twin victories for clean water, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency  announced Wednesday that it will update water pollution control standards for both meat and poultry processing plants and for the release of PFAS chemicals.  

With regard to slaughterhouses, the agency’s commitment comes one month after Environment America Research & Policy Center published a map illustrating meat and poultry processing plants pollution. The standards update is also required by the Clean Water Act, as Environment America and several other organizations represented by Environmental Integrity Project and Earthjustice have maintained in a federal court case filed in 2019.

The public had also urged the EPA to take action to curb both slaughterhouse and PFAS pollution. 

In response to EPA’s announcement, Environment America’s Clean Water Program Director John Rumpler issued the following statement:

“The EPA’s announcement is good news for clean water. 

“Slaughterhouses are putting our waterways at risk. These processing plants are dumping pollutants that contribute to dead zones, drinking water contamination, toxic algal outbreaks, fish kills and pathogens that can make swimmers sick. Many of these facilities are located in the Mississippi River watershed, where pollution flows in August caused a dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico that was larger than the state of Connecticut. Despite these appalling conditions, pollution control standards for these slaughterhouses have remained unchanged since 2004.

“In committing to update slaughterhouse standards, the EPA is following the demands of both the law and its mission to ensure that all our waterways are clean. Hopefully, the new rules will be strong enough to stop facilities that produce our food from polluting our water.”

“Likewise, the EPA’s decision to rein in PFAS pollution is a crucial step toward safe drinking water. Companies have dumped ‘forever chemicals’ into our rivers, even as these toxins have been linked to multiple types of cancer, lower fertility rates, autoimmune diseases and a laundry list of other health problems. As many as 200 million Americans are likely to have these chemicals in their drinking water, according to a recent analysis.

“With PFAS chemicals, we’ve poisoned our own drinking water for the sake of non-stick convenience. The least we should do now is stop dumping these toxic chemicals into our rivers and streams.”