Looking through the Decision Document, given as an attachment to the court filing mentioned earlier, I found that the wastewater treatment plant that the USDA based its environmental review on is located in Gallatin, Tennessee, not Gallatin, Missouri.
Last Friday, the USDA filed a motion in the Front Range Equine Rescue et al v. Vilsack et al federal lawsuit to add Rains Natural Meats from Gallatin, Missouri, to the Temporary Restraining Order (TRO). The reason given is that Rains has now met the guidelines for being given a inspection permit, and is demanding the presence of inspectors at the plant by Monday, Sept. 23.
From the court document:
Rains Natural Meats has informed FSIS that it is ready to begin operations, and has requested inspectors at its facility in Gallatin, Missouri, no later than September 23, 2013. Because FSIS is required, as a matter of law, to provide inspectors for these operations, see 21 U.S.C. § 603(a), FSIS must do so, in the absence of an amendment to the Court’s temporary restraining order, as specified above. Federal Defendants have advised Plaintiffs and Defendant-Intervenor Rains Natural Meats, through counsel of record, of Federal Defendants’ positions on the issues discussed in this Notice and that Federal Defendants intended to file this Notice.
A Missouri state judge has issued an order prohibiting the Missouri Department of Resources (DNR) from giving Rains Natural Meats a wastewater discharge permit because of the strong possibility of equine drug residue that can contaminate both land and water. However, according to the attachment provided with the USDA filing, it would seem that Rains has found a way around this injunction by contracting with a rendering plant and the City of Gallatin to use their facilities to handle solid and liquid waste:
Following section 401(a) of the Clean Water Act (33 U.S.C. § 1341) (“CWA”), 9 CFR §304.2(c)(1) requires any applicant for federal meat inspection at an establishment where the operations thereof may result in any discharge into navigable waters as defined by the CW A to provide the Administrator, FSIS, with certification, obtained from the State in which the discharge will originate, that there is reasonable assurance that said operations will be conducted in a manner that will not violate the applicable water quality standards. On September 3, 2013, Mr. Rains provided the Administrator, FSIS, with an attestation that equine slaughter operations at Rains Natural Meats will not result in any discharge into any navigable waters as define by CW A. Mr. Rains also provided the Administrator, FSIS, with copies of letters from Darling International Inc., a rendering company, and the City of Gallatin agreeing to dispose of Rains Natural Meats’ liquid and solid waste.
Darling International Inc is in Iowa, and not impacted by a Missouri court order. The City of Gallatin’s wastewater treatment system already has a permit, and presumably would not be impacted by the Missouri Judge’s order. According to MO-G822, which is the general permit Rains applied for, a plant would be exempt if it discharged wastewater into an existing sewer system:
Facilities that are of the types listed above and do not discharge into a public sewer system will need to either obtain this General Operating Permit or a site-specific permit. [emph. added]
Again returning to the USDA attachment:
Rains Natural Meats’ disposal of wastewater is governed by Missouri’s Clean Water Law (Mo. Rev. Stat. 640.006 et seq.). In accordance with the Clean Water Law, Rains Natural Meats will discharge its wastewater into the City of Gallatin’s wastewater collection system which consists of over 191 miles of sanitary sewer lines and 22 sanitary sewer pumping stations. 14 This system will transport water from Rains Natural Meats to the Gallatin Wastewater Treatment Plant for processing and eventual discharge of a high quality effluent back into Old Hickory Lake.
As of this morning, Judge Armijo has not modified the TRO in the Front Range Equine Rescue federal case. I have asked the attorney representing the animal welfare groups in the Missouri state case, Stephen Jeffery, for confirmation or correction, and will post an update, accordingly. I’ll also post an update if Judge Armijo modifies the TRO to include Rains.