The long arm of the law has finally caught up with the operators of the Columbia Packing Company.
In January 2012 we were sent the images that exposed the level of pollution occurring. They were taken by an sUAS News reader that still wishes to remain anonymous. The story went viral and continues to receive hits nearly a year later. I believe this is the first environmental crime to be prosecuted on the basis of UA evidence. Authorities had to act because of the attention the story was receiving.
Well done again that person for getting the shot and making a difference.
A Dallas County grand jury returned several indictments on Wednesday against an Oak Cliff meat packing company accused of dumping animal blood in a creek that flows into the Trinity River.
Columbia Packing Company and its owner, Joe Ondrusek, face twelve indictments for water pollution.
If found guilty, the company could pay fines between $6,000 and $1.5 million. Ondrusek himself could get five years in prison and fined up to $100,000 for each count.
The grand jury also found evidence that the company, Joe Ondrusek and family member Donny Ondrusek tampered with physical evidence and returned six counts against them. The company could face more fines, and the Ondruseks could face up to 10 years in prison and $10,000 for each charge.
Neighbors near the plant on 11th Street had long complained about noxious fumes and other problems from the meat packers. But investigators didn’t get involved until a remote-controlled toy enthusiast happened to affix a video camera to an RC aircraft and videotape gallons of what appeared to be blood gushing down the river.
Officials from the Dallas County Health Department, Texas Environmental Crimes Task Force, Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and Environmental Protection Agency took photos and tested emissions.
Weeks of investigation found the plant discharged pigs’ blood into Cedar Creek, a tributary of the Trinity River. In January 2012, the company issued a statement saying it would never knowingly pollute the environment.
The plant shut down operations a few months later.