A spokesman for Tyson Foods, owner of River Valley Ingredients, said 220,000 gallons of partially treated wastewater gushed into Mulberry Fork and downstream in last week's accident at the Hanceville plant.
The Alabama Department of Environmental Management is continuing to investigate the incident, along with the Alabama Department of Public Health. Some news outlets reported the amount of partially treated wastewater was 800,000 gallons, according to an Associated Press report.
ADEM reported that it is cautioning residents from using the affected waterways until further notice. Thousands of fish and other wildlife died from the discharge because of reduced oxygen levels in the water.
Black Warrior Riverkeeper, a nonprofit environmental organization, reported that testing showed more than double the level of E.coli in areas of the water system after the spill.
The statement from Tyson read:
"Representatives of River Valley Ingredients and owner Tyson Foods met with the Alabama Department of Environmental Management Thursday to discuss the recent accidental release of partially treated wastewater at Hanceville and the proactive measures the company has taken to address it.
Tyson Foods bought the plant in August 2018 and this week reported that as part of significant upgrade to the facility, a pipe provided and installed by an outside contractor failed and resulted in the accidental release of 220,000 gallons of partially treated wastewater. This unfortunately led to a loss of fish in nearby streams because of reduced oxygen levels in the water.
The company stopped the accidental release and brought in an outside environmental contractor the same day to help with clean-up. These efforts included collection of fish affected by the release. This work has now been completed and oxygen levels in the affected streams have returned to normal.
We deeply regret this incident and will continue to work with state officials and members of the community to evaluate remediation options. We will follow up with the contractor that supplied the failed pipe and also continue our previously planned work to upgrade the facility."
— Derek Burleson