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Study: Illinois slaughterhouse big nitrogen polluter

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BEARDSTOWN, Ill. – A report says a central Illinois pork-processing plant released more nitrogen from animal waste into waterways than any other slaughterhouse in the U.S.

The Chicago Tribune reports the nonprofit Environmental Integrity Project assessed water pollution by nearly 100 large meat-processing facilities in the U.S.

The report found that meat-processing giant JBS’s Beardstown plant released about an average of 1,850 pounds of nitrogen daily into an Illinois River tributary. The discharges are within limits placed by the Clean Water Act.

JBS officials say the report’s findings are inconsistent with internal figures.

The wastewater typically goes through a treatment facility, but residual nutrients such as nitrogen can stimulate algae blooms that deplete oxygen levels as they decompose. This can suffocate fish and create dead zones.

The Beardstown complex produces more than 1 billion pounds of pork annually.