JACKSON, Miss. (AP) -- A federal judge has ordered a Mississippi poultry plant to pay $14 million for discharging slaughterhouse waste into a creek that supplies drinking water to the city of Jackson.
The fine levied Thursday by U.S. District Court Judge Henry Wingate against Central Industries Inc. is the fifth-largest ever against water polluters, said David McLeod of the Environmental Protection Agency.
"This penalty will make all corporations take notice of the seriousness of the environmental criminal laws," McLeod said.
The company was ordered to pay $13 million in criminal fines and $1 million in restitution to the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality.
"Central is glad to have an opportunity to put this and all related matters behind it," Frank Trapp, a Central Industries attorney, said. "There was never any inaccurate report to the DEQ and nothing that poses any ongoing threat to public health."
The rendering plant processed millions of pounds of entrails, blood, feathers and other waste each week for the production of pet food and other products.
Federal prosecutors said Central Industries consistently violated wastewater standards from the 1970s until the mid-1990s, so much so that Shockaloe Creek, a tributary of the Pearl River and central Mississippi water supply, became known as "Blood Creek."
Besides the fines, Central Industries was ordered apologize to residents of Scott County, where the plant is located.
The largest fine in U.S. history was $26 million paid by Royal Caribbean Cruise company for water pollution in Florida and New York, McLeod said.
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