Oklahoma chicken plant faces criminal charge after alleged discharges into creek
Animal fat, dye, flour and cooking oil are among pollutants the Arkansas-based company OK Foods is accused of dumping into the water around its Southwest Oklahoma City poultry plant.
OK Foods faces a criminal misdemeanor charge of an unpermitted discharge in Oklahoma County District Court in connection with a spill at the factory earlier this year. The factory at 7300 SW 29 makes fully cooked chicken products, including chicken nuggets and breaded chicken patties.
The charge carries a maximum $25,000 fine per day of violation, and 1 year in jail.
The company allegedly dumped at least 4,000 gallons of waste from its Oklahoma City food plant into a nearby creek in spring 2017, according to court documents and the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality.
Campbell Creek drains into the North Canadian River, a few miles upstream from Oklahoma City's Boathouse District.
The Oklahoman contacted OK Foods multiple times over a period of several days for comment on the criminal charge, but the company did not respond.
In March, there was an accidental dump of wash water, animal fat and dye onto the ground at the Oklahoma City plant and OK Foods hired a contractor to clean up the spill, according to a court affidavit filed by Michael Freeman, an investigator for the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality.
The contractor warned OK Foods that a drainage pipe at the plant intended to carry off stormwater needed to be plugged, or the next spill would end up draining into a nearby ditch, according to the affidavit.
In May, there was a subsequent spill of wash water, flour, cooking oil and dye, but this time, the pollutants flowed into a newly dug pit that flowed into a concrete trench that drained through a culvert and away from the plant, according to the affidavit.
Erin Hatfield, a spokeswoman for the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality, said OK Foods has hired a contractor to clean up the spills.
The second spill was the result of "negligence" on the part of OK Foods and it appeared that plant management intentionally dug a pit to drain pollutants away from the property into nearby Campbell Creek, Freeman wrote in the affidavit.
"It is obvious that any wastewater spills would be directed toward the culvert leading off the property and into the ditch and creek," Freeman.
Fort Smith, Arkansas-based OK Foods is owned by the Mexican poultry processor Industrias Bachoco S.A.B. de C.V.
OK Foods and its Mexican owner purchased the Oklahoma City poultry processing plant from American Foods Group for $8 million in 2016.
The plant has a history of spilling pollutants under a previous owner, when it was known as Double D Foods Inc., state records show.
In 2008, the plant was cited by the Department of Environmental Quality for dumping 24,000 gallons of wastewater into a nearby creek, killing fish and frogs, according to state records.