Tyson Farms to pay Alabama $3 million for 2019 Mulberry Fork Spill

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MONTGOMERY, Ala. – A $3 million settlement has been reached with Tyson Farms, Inc., over the wastewater spill into an Alabama waterway.

Attorney General Steve Marshall announced the settlement Wednesday afternoon, bringing an end to the lawsuit filed against Tyson in April of 2020. In the lawsuit, the state alleged that in 2019 Tyson illegally dumped thousands of gallons of partially treated wastewater into Mulberry Fork – part of the Black Warrior River.

The settlement sends the money to the affected communities for specific projects and states that Tyson will take steps to prevent the possibility of future harm.

The six primary provisions of the settlement are:

  1. Tyson will place $1.5 million into a trust for the benefit of the affected Walker and Cullman County communities. The trust will be administered by a five-member committee of local residents to be named by the Attorney General’s Office.
  2. Tyson will pay $650,000 in restitution to the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (ADCNR) and a $350,000 civil penalty to the Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM).
  3. Tyson will invest $500,000 to increase public access to the Mulberry Fork. ADCNR will oversee the use of these funds to construct up to four new public access points in Walker and Cullman Counties so that recreational paddlers and boaters can more easily enjoy the Mulberry and Sipsey Forks of the Black Warrior River.
  4. Tyson will fund a $25,000 grant to the Alabama Cooperative Extension System’s Alabama Water Watch, a non-profit organization, to be used for the benefit of training citizens of Walker and Cullman Counties to monitor water quality conditions and trends of their local water bodies.
  5. Tyson will take all reasonable and appropriate steps to address and remediate the causes and impacts from the 2019 wastewater spill.
  6. Tyson will comply with the terms of its environmental permit and submit engineering reports to ADEM to ensure future permit compliance.

“I am pleased to finally be able to tell the communities of the Mulberry and Sipsey Forks that the state has resolved this matter. Though my office was ready to go to trial, I am convinced that this agreement prioritizes the concerns that I heard from locals and gets money into the right hands quickly,” Attorney General Marshall said upon filing the settlement agreement.

Marshall also said Alabama’s natural resources are sacred and his office takes their role in protecting them very seriously.

Alabama closing its case does not mean private lawsuits against Tyson cannot move forward.

A full copy of the state’s settlement can be read here.

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