By Robert B. 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.