The slaughterhouse hauled away about 400 tons of composted cattle remains…
LAS CRUCES — The Roswell-area meat processing plant that sparked controversy with its bid to begin slaughtering horses for foreign consumption has been slapped with an $86,400 state fine for its handling of composted cattle remains.
The state Environment Department issued Valley Meat Co. a compliance order, dated Aug. 2, for the alleged failure to register a composting facility at a site next to the slaughterhouse and for failing to properly dispose of solid waste, according to Jim Winchester, the Environment Department’s spokesman.
Valley Meat attorney A. Blair Dunn said the company will contest the violations and request a hearing with state officials. Valley Meat received the compliance order on Tuesday — Aug. 14 — by electronic mail, Dunn said.
An employee of the Valley Meat slaughterhouse, owned by Rick De Los Santos, is a certified compost facility operator but, Dunn said, the company’s efforts to register the offal composting facility have been stalled because the state lost at least two prior applications. When the company filed a third one, it was denied because it was not filed on a timely basis, Dunn said.
The slaughterhouse hauled away about 400 tons of composted cattle remains as of May after two years of prodding by the Environment Department. The company would have hauled away more but, Dunn said, the state prohibited a Roswell landfill from accepting more waste.
Concerns about decomposing cattle remains on a site next to the Valley Meat slaughterhouse were initially raised in January 2010 by an official with the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service. The official wrote state environment officials to report that one pile of cow renderings stood about 15 feet tall and that, while the material was described as being composted, “rotting would be more accurate.”
In May, a Colorado-based horse advocacy group, Front Range Equine Rescue, urged the Environment Department to fine the company for violating waste disposal laws.
Several thousand cubic yards of previously composted material remain on the Valley Meat site, according to an e-mail from Winchester.
Valley Meat has not given up its effort to begin slaughtering horses for foreign meat markets.
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