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Cavel faces fines over wastewater

Published: Friday, March 30, 2007 12:00 a.m. CDT

DeKALB - Horse slaughter at Cavel International Inc. may have stopped on Thursday, but the plant still violated its wastewater permit and now faces fines. DeKalb Sanitary District Manager Mike Zima on Friday said the plant was no longer killing horses but was processing meat that it already had. He said there was a violation in the discharge on Friday because of a high amount of ammonia. &#8220Today (Friday) they were not in compliance and today is the last work day in March,” Zima said. &#8220The district will review Cavel's situation in non-attainablity of compliance.” Testing has been done on the plant's wastewater five times each week in March. Previously it was done only once a week. Cavel officials in February told the DeKalb Sanitary District that it would be in compliance by the end of March. Since reopening in 2004, the plant has acquired more then $31,000 in fines for repeated violations. Zima said Cavel could face more fines. The plant was closed down indefinitely this week after a federal appeals court on Wednesday ruled that the U.S. Department of Agriculture could no longer provide horse meat inspectors for a fee at the plant. Funding for the inspectors was pulled by Congress, but the USDA allowed plants to pay for inspection. Cavel General Manager Jim Tucker told the Chicago Tribune that Cavel's lawyers would check if it could appeal the ruling. The DeKalb plant was the only one in the country still processing horse meat for human consumption. Two Texas plants' operations were halted in January after a federal appeals court upheld a 1949 Texas ban on the slaughter of horses for human consumption. &#8220They (Cavel) can no longer slaughter horses for human consumption. The decision was very clear,” said USDA spokeswoman Lisa Wallenda Picard. &#8220They can slaughter for zoos or other needs ... They cannot sell the meat for humans.” On Thursday, six trailers with horses that were intended for slaughter at Cavel were sent back to where they came from, according to Colleen M. O'Keefe, manager for Food Safety and Animal Protection for the Illinois Department of Agriculture. Tucker told the Chicago Tribune that 55 people work at the plant that slaughters about 1,000 horses a week. Aracely Hernandez can be reached at ahernandez@daily-chronicle.com.

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