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Time for Dallas to Rally Against Meat Packing Plant

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By Robert B. Abtahi

Trinity River, Trinity Trials, Columbia Meat Packing Company, Robert Abtahi

The recent stories regarding the Columbia Packing Co. meat packing plant are shocking and disgusting. In case you’ve been living under a rock, here is a brief rundown from a WFAA story:

In court documents, an investigator says that on Dec. 15, 2011, he heard swine cries that appeared to be coming from Columbia Packing. A few minutes later, the water volume increased and the water turned blood red.

Investigators say the company allegedly used a sewer pipe to dump the blood. Water tests later showed swine’s blood and toxins in the water. Friday morning, the company had a sewer cleaning company on the property.

According to the Dallas Morning News, investigators found:

waste products, byproducts, blood, contaminants and other toxic substances resulting from animal processing and cleaning up after said processing.

Even Drudge Report had picked up the story by Saturday morning.  It seems obvious to everyone at this point that we have an environmental disaster on our hands and how we react to it will give us tremendous insight into our attitude towards the Trinity River and Southern Dallas.

As the Google Maps satellite image shows, this plant is located roughly 1,000 feet from the over $4 million dollar standing wave and the recently installed trails. You can actually see the blood entering the Trinity on the labeled Google Maps screenshot below:

So as far as the health of our water supply, our only true natural resource, the surrounding neighborhoods and the millions we have invested in trails and parks is concerned – this plant is no longer compatible with its surroundings and should be shut down.

Please keep in mind when I say “shut down” I mean that whatever permits they have should be revoked as a result of their conduct and whatever nonconforming zoning rights they have should be amortized immediately. Regardless of their alleged dumping, this type of land use no longer belongs next to homes, a river and parks, the dumping just makes it an easier pill to swallow.

Now on to the Southern Dallas issue, I am sure we will hear all kinds of sabre rattling regarding the jobs this plant provides, the economic impact, and fears of being anti-business. I’ll let the Dallas Morning New Editorial Board address those concerns as they are shockingly similar to the Frisco Exide plant issue in which they eloquently stated:

It is never easy for a city to balance economic development and public health when the two goals come into conflict. To their credit, Frisco city officials have appropriately done so in the Exide case, giving the priority to public health.

Indeed, cities clearly should be careful about pushing out businesses they don’t like. Companies make economic investments in cities with the expectation that they will remain in operation. The plant employs about 135 workers and pays taxes to Collin County and the Frisco Independent School District. Its economic impact is not insignificant…

Frisco’s City Council made the right call to stand up for the environmental health of its residents. That’s what elected officials are supposed to do.

So let’s rally the animal lovers that were so vocal regarding the animal shelter, call up the enviromentalists that want stricter tree ordinances, and most of all let’s hear some outrage from the big names that have sponsored the Trinity River project for all these years.

The answer seems pretty simple to me, the ball is in your court Dallas.

Robert Abtahi is a Dallas attorney that represents individuals and small businesses. He is also a current member of the Dallas City Plan Commission.  He can be reached at Robert.Abtahi@gmail.com.

  • Rational one

    So, allegations not withstanding, this business should be closed down because people decided to build homes and parks nearby? Even though it has been at that location since the 50′s? You sound like the idiots who build homes next to the airport and then complain about the airplane noise.

  • http://twitter.com/RobertAbtahi Robert B. Abtahi

    I think you skipped a few steps in my argument. I actually stated that IF the business has nonconforming rights then those rights should be amortized. Which is a legal process by which the surrounding community can fight those rights. Completely legal and gives both sides a chance to make their arguments.

    That is allegations not withstanding… if the allegations are true (which in my personal opinion they are) then refer back to the Dallas Morning News rationale.

    PS: A lot of things were okay in the 50′s that aren’t today…

  • Hooplatooster

    I am sure this was a one time accident. To my knowledge there has never been another incident like this from the company. In addition, regarding Frisco, the company was there first, the people decided to build their houses around it, so they must have loved the idea.

  • Fishman1982

    Robert, people like you make me sick. Get your facts correct before you write this crap!! They had a leak in a pipe one time. A mistake! You want to shut them down because of a mistake. I’m sure since your big shot attorney you’ve never made a mistake. Its pukes like you and the idiots in the media that ruin it for hard working people all around the United States especially in agriculture world. People like you that wear fancy clothes and can’t get your soft hands dirty can write this crap because you have no idea how the “real” world opperates. You live in your sheltered life in the middle of a big city. GET A CLUE before you write BS like this. As far as i’m concerned your an IDIOT!!

  • Anonymous

    Actually if this was a “one time” event – It’s been going on since November… That would be “one time” DAILY for almost 3 months!

    The company was also cited twice for “humane” animal handling violations. You know… They sort of started carving on the pig before he or she was killed. Some outfit.

    Spilling blood is NEVER the right thing to do – We can live fine on a plant based diet. BUT – spilling blood into a community river is down right force on not only the nonhumans but on the neighbors too! I agree – Shut them down!

  • Reality check?

    It is really interesting to me that nothing has been said about the pollution UPSTREAM from this particular “find”. Car bodies (leaking who know WHAT toxins), garbage and worse are not even mentioned by the clean water advocates. Maybe those very toxic elements should be addressed, instead. But wait— who could be blamed and sensationalized in the media?

  • Rangers100

    Yee haw, Cletus.

  • http://twitter.com/RobertAbtahi Robert B. Abtahi

    I wouldn’t normally reply to a comment like this but I just happen to be wearing a $5 tshirt, $20 jeans, and my hands are covered in blood and mortar because I spent the last 6 hours help rebuild a brick fireplace.

    Needless to say, I feel pretty good about myself so I am going to bathe in Fiji water as I sip on Dom Perignon, as is customary for me on a Monday night.

  • Fishman1982

    Be careful washing the blood off your hands, that toxic stuff might leak into the river.

  • Level headed thinker.

    Thank you, Rational One! What the plant did was irresponsible and downright despicable, but using the argument that its surroundings are changing is total BS.

    Mr. Abtahi, Did you even notice the MASSIVE wastewater treatment plant downstream? If we are to follow your same (flawed) line of reasoning, I’d say that complex should be moved away from all those new homes as well…

    A bit off topic, but in line with your airport comment, the same thing has happened to race tracks in California and the UK. Developers build homes, then the new residents complain. This has already required expensive modifications to cars that race at one California track, shut down one racetrack in the UK and threatens dozens more.

  • Missnismo

    These are no longer allegations. This is FACT. It has been reported as fact and is well on it’s way to becoming a full-blown investigation into the on-goings over the last few years. And perhaps looked at further back than that.

  • VetUSMC

    It’s the idiot tree-huggers like you who sensationalize this crap. “We can live fine on a plant-based diet” is horse-shit. There are NO plant sources of Vitamin B-12, for example. Humans can’t live without this vitamin. Most vegans and veggietards like you fill in the blanks with a multi-vitamin. Most multi-vitamins source their B-12 from beef livers. The closest you can come to a non-animal source of B-12 is eggs.

    Regardless, the fact that we can metabolize and absorb about 80% of animal proteins, but only about 25% of plant proteins shows we were (designed or evolved, insert your word here) to be omnivores. Ignorance is bliss, huh?

    You gonna go teach bears to live on tree bark to save the precious salmon?

  • Anonymous

    Actually… B12 is a bacteria – not a vitamin. And before we radiated our vegetables (to kill e-coli, salmonella and listeria) we got our B12 from the earth residue on our veggies.

    I took more supplements when I was eating meat than now. It’s a myth that vegans live on pills. Go to any GNC or “health food store”… Odds are it’s the omnis buying the supplements.

    B12 can also be obtained from fortified foods… That seems like a very easy “compromise” to not killing innocent beings – Yes?

    Finally… The bear? What on earth does what bears, lions or wolves eat have to do with us? They are not moral agents – We are. They cannot live without flesh – We can! And many of us do just fine! ;)

  • Anonymous

    So the federal government got involved… Are they still there? I don’t want to hear what corrupt city officials have to say. What does the government have to say about it. I want to hear a government agency speak on this matter. Telling the company 41 days after they were informed? Sounds like somebody had a motive and they didn’t quite plan it all the way through.

  • Bradlimes

    Why is no one wanting to shut down the city for their part of the sewer pipe problem. Why did they wait so long to notify the plant of the known clogged pipe (which caused the leak)?
    Did anyone bother digging deeper into the city’s allegations enough to realize that the city didn’t even know that a sewer pipe existed back there? That’s right! The city didn’t even know about the pipe that they have a responsibility to maintain. Everyone seems to love the sensational stories about these “evil” companies, but when the real facts finally surface everyone drops the story like a hot potato. I guess truth doesn’t sell as well as half-baked allegations.

    I don’t think Robert is anti-business. It’s obvious that he’s trying to boost his business. Unfortunately he is attempting to do so by chiming in on half truths and knee-jerk reactions.

    Eat More Bacon!

  • Chibiwombat

    Seems to me a city flexing it’s muscles and bullying a small buisness so they can buy the land for their park. Why is there no mention that the City of Dallas has tried to buy this company and land twice? And the fact that they were raided by Homeland Security (a joke of an agency BTW), with City Council Members present. Now is the packing company completly innocent? No. But the City of Dallas and it’s paid Media will make you think that this is an Evil place

  • PIGsBLOODBather
  • Another Thought

    I respectfully disagree with you Level headed thinker. A wastewater treatment plant is not along the same lines as a meat packing plant for this one simple difference: a wastewater treatment plant cleans wastewater before returning it to the environment while a meat packing plant slaughters living animals.

    If the Columbia Packing Co did indeed dump pigs blood in the river, what would keep them from doing it in the future?

  • Dsoncol

    I concur!

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