Couple that with the fact that this slaughter plant is seeking permitting for only a small fraction of the bio hazardous waste they are actually going to be generating and it adds up to another taxpayers’ nightmare.
From: Paula Bacon, Mayor of Kaufman, TX (2003-2007)
I am 5th generation in Kaufman, TX, a community that spent many difficult years trying to deal with a horse slaughter plant. As a resident, business owner (P.G. Bacon Lumber Co. “Friendly Service Since 1896”), taxpayer, and one who has served 4 terms on the City Council, two as mayor, I believe a horse slaughter plant is among the very least desirable things a community would want. A horse slaughter plant ranks with a lead smelter plant and sexually oriented businesses, thedead opposite of economic development. A horse slaughter plant creates expensive environmental problems for taxpayers, profoundly affected our crime rate and stigmatizes the community as ‘that place where they slaughter horses’—and good development goes elsewhere.
Knowing what such a plant does to a community, people want to do everything they can to keep a horse slaughter plant from moving in. A horse slaughter plant creates long term m&o expenses, dominates what people think of your community and getting rid of them is almost impossible. A horse slaughter plant is a classic example of how a bad decision leads to multiple bad outcomes.
What I describe (and document) is not what might happen, it is what did happen, we lived it. Living with horse slaughter was about their making money and the community being their doormat. What we received was entirely negative, some of which is described below.
Horse slaughter interests make promises in terms of jobs and prosperity and complying with the laws, but these promises are not borne out. Horse slaughter’s promises are thoroughly refuted by the facts.
Poor pay and dangerous work, all 3 plants operating in the US in 2006 employed no more than 178 in jobs most Americans do not want (p.16). Environmental violations were the same in all 3 communities: they did not comply with the laws.
The horse slaughter plant in DeKalb was out of compliance with its wastewater permit countless times. The attached photograph (p. 17) shows the brand new, state of the art pre-treatment facility tank overflowing with foaming blood and waste. Also attached are documents showing they were in violation of environmental laws every month after they re-opened until they were closed by state law (p. 15).
The third plant in Ft. Worth had numerous, serious OSHA violations as well as environmental violations. They clogged sewer lines causing blood to spill into a nearby creek, allowed wastewater to flow onto adjacent properties and into the creek, and on another occasion the plant was found to have pumped horse blood into the creek. [See San Antonio Current, June 19, 2003].
In Saskatchewan Canada, when Natural Valley Farms horse slaughter plant went bankrupt and were ordered closed by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, they abandoned a lagoon of over 30 million gallons of untreated waste, not including blood. After collecting the blood for resale they found there was no market for it and were subsequently caught discharging it into a nearby river.
The plant in Kaufman made repeated reference to being ‘good corporate citizens,’ but I believe that they were more like corporate thugs as they “neglected to perform within the standards required of them” (from staff report to City Council),
thereby tormenting resident taxpayers and threatening expensive infrastructure. At a meeting regarding severe problems with the horse slaughter plant in 2005, the wastewater treatment plant manager informed us then that “everything is running on high, 24/7 and we have no back-up,” We are even today continuing to pay for very expensive replacements and repairs to the plant.
Had the horse slaughter plant not closed in 2007, our town would have been required to spend a minimum of $6 million (“if we are lucky,” according to the engineers) to build a new wastewater treatment plant. Within 2 weeks of the horse slaughter plant closing, capacity at the plant increased by 52%. The risk of a mega million dollar watershed cleanup was also, thankfully taken off the table.
In 1986 the mayor at the time and council tried to keep the horse slaughter plant from re-opening. They had been closed down for a year after the State of Texas sued the City and the City sued the plant for continually violating environmental laws. [See Kaufman Herald, January 23, 1986, p. 7].
At that time there was literally blood coming up in people’s bathtubs and toilets (difficult to believe but true; please see reference in Kaufman Herald 1986. It is my understanding that the horse slaughter plant had used a pump to force waste down the sewer system, breaking pipes under the streets and one of the causes for the bloody waste in homes). As recently as 2005 the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality investigated complaints about water safety and found that backflow prevention requirements, that prevent things like blood coming into the sinks, tubs and toilets of homes and business, were not in place. Seven months previously the City had directed the horse slaughter plant to comply with the requirements, but very typically the plant had declined to do so. The City received a hefty fine that taxpayers paid and the plant continued operations, business as usual.
The horse slaughter plant operated in continual violation of its wastewater permit. I will gladly provide you with detailed reports from my City Manager, Police Chief, and Public Works Director regarding odor and wastewater effluence violations at the Dallas Crown horse slaughter plant in the City of Kaufman. The reports reference “decaying meat [which] provides a foul odor and is an attraction for vermin and carrion,” containers conveyed “uncovered and leaking liquids,” there are “significant foul odors during the daily monitoring of the area,” and “Dallas Crown continually neglects to perform within the standards required of them.”
Reports include descriptive language such as “blood flowing east and west in the ditches from your plant,” “It has been over 45 days [it had been 59 days] and no apparent cleanup has occurred,” “Your system has not improved and subsequently it has gotten a lot worse,” “Words cannot express the seriousness” of recent violations and the “adverse effects on the wastewater treatment plant,” and “Please be sure trailers are secured before leaving your premises to prevent spills,” noting also “bones and blood laying in front of the facility,” problems with bones and parts in neighboring yards and the attraction of “dogs and other animals.”
Attached here (pp. 18ff) are a few of the many police summons showing violations related to BOD (bio-oxygen demand), TSS (total suspended solids), chemical spill, and pH. The amounts are very high; for example their permit allowed them a level of 2,000, well above the normal limit of 250. The violation on the summons shows they exceeded by 33,000 the 2,000 limit. TSS permitted was 1,500 which they exceeded by 4,200. The wastewater treatment plant was ‘shocked’ on more than one occasion by illegal pH levels.
The horse slaughter plant also denied access to the plant for environmental testing for 9 months, despite requirements by ordinance, letter agreement and court order. There was no testing done at all initially. City staff, the City Manager, the CityCouncil and the City Attorney all communicated to the plant manager the necessity of access to protect the wastewater treatment plant and the creek system. After 2 months the horse slaughter plant began doing their own testing with no chain of custody in place. After being in violation 2 of the first 4 samples they pulled for themselves and took to a company they paid directly for the testing, they were not in violation anymore–which had virtually never before happened in their 20+year history (see beginning December 2004 on the spreadsheet, p. 10).
During the last few years of operation, the horse slaughter plant quit paying fines, and instead requested individual jury trials for each citation issued for their violations, a cost prohibitive to the City and our legal budget. During one 19 month period the plant had $916,000 in potential fines and demanded separate jury trials on citations for violations [see spreadsheet]. These were never resolved and the City was left ‘holding the bag.’
Residents complained to the Texas Department of Health regarding blood and other matter leaking onto the streets. containers of offal and hides leaked blood during transport on our streets and highways.
“Quite frankly, we don’t want you here,” the mayor at the time announced as the council meeting began in 1986. “That plant has never made a dime for this city and they never will,” he said. The city administrator added the horse slaughter plant has been “a lousy part of the community.” [Please see attached articles from Kaufman Herald, pp. 7ff].
This was no less true when I became mayor. The horse slaughter plant kept us ensnared in the courts with endless appeals and injunctions. They had plenty of money to keep us endlessly in court; the City’s pockets were not near so deep. And no wonder. During nuisance hearings, the horse slaughter plant was required
to produce tax returns, their most recent return revealing they had paid $5 in federal income tax on $12 million dollars in sales. In the preceding 5 years Dallas Crown’s federal income tax was .3% or 1/3 of 1% of sales. [Please see attached 2004 tax return, p. 13] A copy of the forensic analysis of the horse slaughter plant’s returns [please see John S. Rainey letter, p. 14] determined that the plant sold to itself at a loss so that the profits only surfaced overseas (this involved 3 corporations, each having identical ownership). There was no sales tax since they sold to themselves overseas and property tax revenue to the City was generally less than $2,000 per year. We did not benefit from having a horse slaughter plant; we paid. In August of 2005, our City Council voted unanimously to send the issue to the Board of Adjustments for termination of their non-conforming use status. In March of 2006, the Board of Adjustments voted unanimously to order Dallas Crown closed, but the plant was able to tie up enforcement in the courts until they were finally closed under state law in February of 2007. It was the 1949 state law banning horse slaughter for human consumption that was finally enforced and forced the closure of the plant.
Someone recently said to me that horse slaughter interests are arrogant and not accustomed to challenge. They think just saying something somehow makes it true and that laws and communities can be ignored. Then he added — But they are wrong. I hope he is right. It didn’t ruin us but darn near. We are recovering despite the economy. Good development is occurring and our crime rate has dropped like a rock, from a rate of over 400 to 135 [See city-data.com, p. 6].
Were there any positives to having a horse slaughter plant? No, there were not. The horse slaughter plant did buy an oversized American flag for the nearby American Legion. But the flag, like horse slaughter itself, made a mockery of our community and values. It did not cover or make up for the multitude of sins horse slaughter provided.
As one neighbor said recently, “We can breathe again. Life is much better.” And we buy our own flag. Please contact me if I can be of help.
Mayor 2003-07, Kaufman, Texas
Link to letter and exhibits
Do you want to see this type of business to open again in the USA? Contact NM Environmental Dept. Secretary, David Martin
(505) 827-2855 and let them know your thoughts.
See on www.picmonkey.com