Plant Accused of Dumping Pig Blood to Stay Closed for Now

Investigators confirmed pig blood entered Trinity River behind plant

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Dallas City Hall said no to reopening Columbia Packing Company in Oak Cliff after hearing from residents who live near the plant that is accused of dumping pig blood into the Trinity River. (Published Wednesday, Apr 18, 2012)

    The city of Dallas won a round Wednesday against a company accused of dumping pig blood in the Trinity River.

    The Dallas City Council asked the Zoning Board of Adjustment for the ruling, which essentially forbids Columbia Packing for reopening as a slaughterhouse.

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    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. (Published Monday, Mar 12, 2012)

    The company was closed in January after aerial photos and criminal investigators confirmed pig blood entered Cedar Creek and the Trinity River behind the plant.

    Company employees and supporters faced off with angry plant neighbors at the Board of Adjustment hearing.

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    Columbia supporters said 100 workers depend on reopening the plant.

    "And we can't afford to loose anymore taxpaying people, any more families loose jobs," supporter Wanda Summers said.

    In a YouTube video produced last month, Columbia officials denied any wrongdoing and said they have always tried to be good neighbors.

    But plant neighbors at the hearing said years of foul odors around the plant ended after it was shut down.

    "It would make you sick. It was a horrible, horrible scent," said neighbor Erma Ceasar.

    The board established the January Columbia Packing closing as the date of compliance for the non-conforming land use of the slaughterhouse.

    But city officials said the plant, in operation for 75 years, has been in violation of zoning codes since 1965.

    Board members questioned why neighbors' complaints went unanswered before.

    "It's a real head-scratcher for me, an incredible head-scratcher for me. This has been going on for so long, and the neighbors had to put up with it, and there hasn't been a way until today to do something about it," said Samuel Gillespie, board member.

    Company attorney Roger Albright said the hearing was unnecessary since the company had already agreed not to resume the slaughtering operation.

    He said the company should be allowed to reopen as just a meat processing plant with slaughtering done elsewhere.

    The company filed applications for new occupancy permits Tuesday.

    "Now what we're counting on is the city shows us some good faith and helping us process the other permits so we can continue the meat processing and distribution business we've been doing for 75 years," Albright said.

    Several Dallas council members have said they do not want Columbia to open again at that site.

    City attorneys said at the hearing that a criminal investigation of the company's conduct is still ongoing.