In January, the Columbia Packing Co., a 99-year-old meatpacking plant in Oak Cliff, was accused of allegedly using a secret sewer line to flood Cedar Creek with enough swine blood to turn it red.
In a letter sent to the company’s customers, Joe Ondrusek, the president of Columbia Packing Co., denies those claims, writing:
Columbia Packing did not and has not intentionally or knowingly polluted or illegally dumped hazardous materials. Our sewer line ties into a City of Dallas sewer main. It does NOT dump into the creek as has been alleged.
[The city of Dallas] knowingly allowed this overflow to continue for 41 days. Government officials did something my family never would have done – they allowed products to contaminate the Trinity River for more than a month without taking corrective action.
A company spokesperson said Columbia Packing will voluntarily close its Oak Cliff slaughtering operation, as most of its products are made with meat slaughtered elsewhere and shipped to the plant. This news was met with delight by South Dallasites, including Dallas City Councilman Dwaine Caraway, who hailed the closure as “a victory for Southern Dallas,” according to Ken Kalthoff of NBC-DFW.
Ondrusek addressed the allegations by the city that the company houses a second hidden pipe on its property that bypasses the city’s sewer monitoring device:
What the city of Dallas is alleging is factually incorrect and legally wrong. During the search of our property, authorities dug many holes looking for a source of contamination. A buried pipe was dug up, but it was an abandoned pipe – not a hidden pipe. The pipe in question was 100 yards away from our plant and was not physically connected in any way to our facility. In fact, when the pipe was removed, it was so compacted with dirt and brick, nothing could have flowed through it.
According to Ondrusek, the city of Dallas searched the company’s property and found eighteen possible code violations. The company says it addressed and repaired each issue within thirty days, and points out that before January, the Oak Cliff facility had never been cited for violations since it opened in the 1930s.
Columbia Packing Co. also released a YouTube video on Sunday addressing the violations and explaining its side of the story. The alleged hidden pipe is discussed around 5:26: