EPA proposes deadline for rules to reduce slaughterhouse pollution

Media Contacts
John Rumpler

Senior Director, Clean Water for America Campaign and Senior Attorney, Environment America

WASHINGTON — In a victory for clean water, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a proposed timetable for rules to curb pollution from meat and poultry processing plants. Under a proposed settlement of litigation brought by Environment America, Earthjustice, Environmental Integrity Project and several other organizations, the EPA would propose new pollution control standards for slaughterhouses by the end of 2023 and finalize them by August 2025.

In response to the EPA’s announcement, John Rumpler, senior clean water director for Environment America, said:

“For far too long, meat and poultry processing plants have dumped into our rivers pollutants that contribute to toxic algae and dead zones, nitrates that can contaminate drinking water, and pathogens that can make us sick. Our partners at Environment America Research & Policy Center have documented this pollution through a fact sheet and map of offending facilities.

“Despite the requirements of the Clean Water Act, the EPA has not updated pollution control standards (called “effluent limitation guidelines”) for large slaughterhouses since 2004.  Standards for smaller facilities were last set in 1975, and there are still no treatment standards for facilities that send their wastewater to sewage plants.

“It makes no sense to produce our food in ways that pollute our water. In committing to update slaughterhouse standards, the EPA will be following the law and upholding its mission to ensure clean water.  After decades of delay, we hope the agency will move swiftly to stop facilities that produce our food from polluting our water.”