Tyson Foods Inc. has notified the Maryland Department of the Environment that it has stopped spreading sludge from a chicken processing plant on an Eastern Shore farm, but the agency is still investigating possible violations of state water pollution laws, an MDE spokesman said.
In April, neighbors complained to the state that the company was spreading large amounts of the sludge -- made up of wastewater, ground-up chicken parts and manure -- on the 105-acre farm near Berlin.
Three MDE inspections confirmed that "sludge was being over-applied," contaminating ground water and causing other problems, according to an April 30 letter from MDE officials to the company.
"Where they got in trouble is they just put it down without any controls whatsoever," said MDE spokesman Quentin W. Banks. "Every time it rains, the stuff runs off into nearby fields and streams."
Tyson officials said they had been using the field to dispose of sludge all winter. MDE officials are trying to find out how long the disposal went on, Banks said.
The company has told MDE it will temporarily store the waste in a tank while looking for another way to get rid of it, possibly at a facility in Virginia. MDE and company officials will meet July 2 to iron out a permanent solution.
Pub Date: 6/25/98