Updated with company statement Jan. 26 @11:25 a.m.
DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – The meat packing company suspected of dumping thousands of gallons of pig blood into a creek leading to the Trinity River received a letter from the city Tuesday detailing 18 code violations that may create health problems for the general public.
The letter, dated Jan. 24, was sent from the city attorney’s office to the Columbia Packing Company, a 99-year-old meat packing business located in Oak Cliff on East 11th Street.
In November, aerial photos surfaced of nearby Cedar Creek running red with what appeared to be pig’s blood coming from the company’s property.
Dallas County Health and Human Services Chief Zach Thompson said last week that this prompted the Environmental Protection Agency, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and Texas Parks and Wildlife to team and execute a search warrant.
They found a pipe that was not connected to a waste water system.
“I think they discovered a secondary pipe,” Thompson told CBS 11 last week. “The question is, who installed the pipe and why was it there?”
According to the city attorney’s letter, the company voluntarily allowed city inspectors on its property. They found 18 violations, “many of which may create health and safety problems for the employees, neighbors and the general public.”
According to the city, Columbia Packing discharged “hair and fleshings, whole blood, plastic gloves and other materials” into the wastewater system in such amounts that it could obstruct or interfere with the city’s system.
Inspectors also found industrial waste and runoff from livestock areas entering the storm water drainage system.
“The investigations have begun to turn up things, and the things that are being turned up are very surprising and disheartening and, most of all, dangerous to our community,” said Councilman Dwaine Caraway.
The city’s letter “demands that Columbia Packing remedy the violations before resuming operations.” If the company tries to resume its work, the city is threatening to disconnect its water and sewage service.
The city also warns that it may sue, seeking penalties of up to $1,000 a day for each listed violation.
“They should have been shut down a long time ago,” Caraway said.
Earlier this week, the company released a statement saying it had voluntarily ceased operations. Wednesday afternoon, though, warehouse workers were still answering the phone and trucks continued to pull onto the property.
Tonya Thompson lived across from Columbia Packing and moved out in October.
“We heard the pigs, and the constant middle of the night pigs’ squealing,” she said.
Thompson said she’s happy she moved away before the investigation was launched, adding that she was relieved she no longer has to worry about her neighbors.
“I thought it was muddy water,” she said. “I didn’t know what was going on.”
According to a letter written by the Animal Welfare Institute that was posted on the USDA’s website, the plant was cited in 2008 and 2009 for inhumane treatment or slaughter of animals.
The letter says the company received a one-day suspension each time.
The letter sent to Columbia Packing detailing the 18 violations is below:
On January 26, Columbia issued a statement. Click here to read it (PDF format).