A report released by the group Environment Iowa lists Cargill Meat Solutions’ pork processing plant in Ottumwa as the state’s number one disposer of toxic chemicals into waterways. In 2012, Cargill disposed of more than 2.8 million pounds of chemicals into the Lower Des Moines River.
Cargill’s Director of Communications, Mike Martin, says his company takes environmental stewardship very seriously. “We have a very large pork processing facility in Ottumwa and what we’re talking about here is organic, nitrogen based compounds that have no toxicity to aquatic life, but they do have to be recorded,” Martin said.
Environment Iowa’s senior attorney, John Rumpler, disagrees, saying discharge from companies like Cargill does hurt aquatic life by causing large blooms of algae.
“And that’s why we have a giant dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico, because of the all the nitrogen and nitrates and phosphorous following down the Mississippi River. Very little can survive,” Rumpler said.
Of all industrial plants nationwide, Environment Iowa states the Ottumwa facility is the ninth largest polluter of watersheds. The report was released by Environment Iowa in hopes of eliciting public support for a rule change to the Clean Water Act, that would expand the EPA’s jurisdiction beyond navigable waterways to seasonal streams and wetlands.