Ken Kalthoff, NBC 5 News
Columbia Packing Company is offering to stop slaughtering animals at its Oak Cliff location after Dallas discovered intentional dumping into the Trinity River. But in return, Columbia wants to reopen the rest of its meat packing plant on 11th Street in Dallas.
The company accused of dumping pig blood in the Trinity River says it will voluntarily close its slaughtering operation. But in return, Columbia Packing Company wants to reopen the rest of its meat packing plant on 11th Street in Dallas.
A company spokesperson said most of Columbia's products were already made with meat slaughtered elsewhere and shipped to the plant and that would be the sole operation if the plant reopens.
The City of Dallas closed the plant in January after traces of pig blood were discovered in Cedar Creek behind the plant which runs into the Trinity River.
In a letter and YouTube video released Monday, company officials deny intentionally dumping blood and claim the city could have notified the company weeks earlier about a clogged sewer line that city officials evidently knew about which was responsible for a spill.
Dallas City Councilman Dwaine Caraway praised the company for agreeing to stop the slaughter operation at the plant.
"I think it is a victory for Southern Dallas," he said.
But Caraway, who said he will continue to fight to keep the entire meat packing operation closed, added that the city did not act sooner because a group of officials had launched an investigation of the company's conduct and the city did not want to tip the company off.
"You don't send up a smoke signal to tell them 'here we come,'" Caraway said.
Caraway said the investigation is ongoing and it is too soon to say if the company should be allowed to operate again.
City spokesman Frank Librio released this statement Monday afternoon:
"The city will use all legal means possible to ensure that Columbia Packing, or any company in the city, is not allowed to continue to discharge illicit waste and potentially harm the public and the environment.
Columbia Packing officials, on video, focus on a hidden pipe on their property that they claim was clogged with brick and other material. What company officials do not address is another hidden pipe discovered that was installed to bypass the City’s monitoring device in the sanitary sewer line. The installation of that bypass allowed the discharge of pig blood and other unsanitary waste materials without City oversight. Columbia Packing has failed to document when and how this bypass was installed. The bypass pipe appeared to be of recent vintage. "
In January a team of city, county, state and federal officials raided the plant. At that time, the Dallas County Health Director confirmed an investigation of Columbia was under way and that investigators had found what appeared to be an improper sewage bypass pipe leading out of the plant toward the creek.
The company's new statements Monday deny any such a bypass system was in place.
Last week the Dallas City Council passed a resolution sending the case to a zoning review panel.