Tyson Foods, America’s worst company, pleaded guilty in a federal court today to polluting water in Missouri. Tyson will pay a $2 million criminal fine (an amount lower than the bonus received by Tyson CEO Tom Hayes), serve two years probation, and pay $500,000 to “maintain and restore” the water they polluted, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. It’s little consolation to local residents and the estimated 108,000 fish Tyson employees killed as a result of the pollution.
Under the terms of the agreement, Tyson must implement steps that include hiring an independent third-party auditor to monitor Tyson’s compliance with the Clean Water Act and hazardous waste laws and increased training to prevent the recurrence of their polluting addiction.
Tyson’s violation of the Clean Water Act should come as no surprise as the company has a sordid history of pollution, law-breaking, mistreatment of employees, and cruelty to animals. It’s one of the many reasons thousands of residents of Tonganoxie, Kansas recently blocked Tyson from building a factory to slaughter chickens in their backyard.
If Missouri residents think Tyson’s environmental destruction is appalling–and it is, they should see what Tyson employees do to chickens. Tyson has a tradition of torture. But as a Tonganoxie’s protest sign read, “Tyson exists because people eat chickens.” As more and more people transition to plant-based meats, the pollution and cruelty from companies like Tyson will be history.