U.S. Water News Online
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. -- A $1 million penalty levied against
John Morrell & Co.. will help Sioux Falls protect the Big Sioux
River, local and federal officials say.
The money is part of a $3 million fine Morrell was ordered to pay
in a federal court case. The company admitted to falsifying records
at its Sioux Falls meat-packing plant and exceeding the amount of
ammonia nitrogen it may discharge into the river.
The $1 million in the environmental fund for the city is being
held by the federal government until the city council approves an
ordinance for its use. The other $2 million goes to the federal
"I think any time there is a violation of the environmental laws,
the people in that community are affected by it, and are victims of
the crime," said U.S. Attorney Karen Schreier. "And victims are
entitled to restitution for crimes."
Schreier, whose office prosecuted Morrell, came up with the idea
to set up the environmental fund for Sioux Falls. U.S. District Judge
Lawrence Piersol approved the language of the fine, and Mayor Gary
Hanson and the city council must submit any spending requests to
Hanson said the money won't be used until next year. The fund can
help eliminate decades-old pollution and help prevent further
deterioration of the river, he said. Part of the principal may be
used, but some will remain in a trust so that the interest can be
Hanson said the river "has been abused at various times, and I
expect it to continue to play an ever-increasing role in providing
recreation opportunities and providing a water supply for the
City officials say that fish may have been harmed but that the Morrell discharges did no lasting damage to the river or drinking water.
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