HSUS Files Notice of Intent to Sue Slaughter Facility Over Water Pollution

The Humane Society of the United States has filed a 60-day notice of intent to sue the Cavel International horse slaughterhouse in DeKalb, Ill., for repeatedly violating the federal Clean Water Act. Cavel is the only location in the United States currently slaughtering American horses for human consumption. The notice was filed in response to numerous complaints the HSUS received from area residents, and is based on records provided by the local sanitary district.

The notice, required under federal law before a lawsuit can be filed, alleges that Cavel International has violated the terms of its wastewater discharge permit numerous times during the last two years.

According to the HSUS, citing state records, Cavel has repeatedly exceeded its allowable "biochemical oxygen demand," or BOD, levels in its wastewater discharge. BOD is a test used to measure the concentration of biodegradable organic matter present in a sample of water. Cavel has been fined several times for violating the terms of its permit because of high BOD levels, and the level of fines has been increasing. It was fined $500 in 2004, $5,500 in 2005 and $25,500 for violations in January through September 2006.

The Humane Society stated the plant slaughters more than 500 horses a week and discharges approximately 13,000 gallons of wastewater per day during operations.

Last month, a plant employee stated that a new holding tank was oozing frozen chunks of waste. Shortly thereafter, the local sanitary district ordered the facility to fix the wastewater problems at the plant or face closure on May 31. According to official records obtained by the HSUS, the sanitary district has deemed the plant "in significant noncompliance" for its chronic wastewater discharge violations.

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