Company waste spills into Mulberry Fork

By RICK WATSON
Posted 6/11/19

SIPSEY – Citizens gathered at Mulberry Fork in Sipsey to watch as dead fish floated by on Monday. According to a published report in The Cullman Tribune Tyson Foods, Inc. issued a public notice …

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Company waste spills into Mulberry Fork

Posted

SIPSEY – Citizens gathered at Mulberry Fork in Sipsey to watch as dead fish floated by on Monday. According to a published report in The Cullman Tribune Tyson Foods, Inc. issued a public notice Friday, saying, “Due to a failure in a pipe owned by River Valley Ingredients located near Hanceville, Alabama, partially treated effluent (liquid waste/sewage) is believed to have reached the Dave Young Creek, which flows to the Mulberry Fork.”  The spill occurred sometime on Thursday.

The report went on to say the incident occurred at the Tyson rendering plant (formerly American Proteins), located at 1170 County Road 508 in Hanceville.

According to Tyson’s Worth Sparkman, “In an abundance of caution, the public is encouraged to avoid recreating in Dave Young Creek or the Mulberry Fork until further notice.”

Sparkman said River Valley Ingredients acted quickly and is engaged with the Alabama Department of Environmental Management and has an environmental management company actively working on clean-up. 

Officer Phil Miller who is one of the area game wardens said on Monday afternoon that he has not been in contact with the Alabama Department of Environmental Management and is unsure how bad the impact will be along the Mulberry. “The first time I saw any fish coming down was yesterday,” he said. Miller learned about the incident on social media on Saturday afternoon.

The Black Warrior Riverkeepers, which is an environmental group that advocates for the Black Warrior, released the following statement on their Facebook page.

American Proteins had a large wastewater spill (undisclosed amount) sometime yesterday, which caused a massive fish kill. The Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources’ Division of Wildlife & Freshwater Fisheries (DCNR) and the Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM) are conducting an investigation into the wastewater spill and resulting fish kill today. Unfortunately, everyone should avoid contact with the Mulberry Fork downstream until further notice. 

American Proteins [1170 Co. Rd. 508 | Hanceville, AL 35077 (256) 352-9821)], which they say is the largest rendering plant in the world, is now owned by Tyson. The sprawling plant receives chicken carcasses from slaughterhouses across Alabama and cooks them down into protein products. This facility has a history of spills and fish kills due to poor housekeeping and maintenance.

ADEM is responsible for holding American Proteins accountable for the spill, and should levy a stiff penalty to encourage better housekeeping and deter future spills and fish kills. ADEM failed to issue a stiff penalty in 2016 when American Proteins spilled 900 gallons of sulfuric acid into the river, killing around 40,000 fish. The fine levied by ADEM for that spill and kill was a mere slap on the wrist. Join us in demanding that ADEM hold American Proteins accountable!

Mountain Eagle photographers photographed dead catfish, carp, bream, and other fish on Monday afternoon. Several trucks with equipment and a large roll-off container were being staged at the Mulberry Forks in the parking lot behind T&R Grocery Store.