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Recommendation to deny sewage permit at New Mexico horse slaughter plant

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Another roadblock faces the beginning of operation for Valley Meat Company, a horse slaughter plant in Roswell, N.M. according to Tuesday's SantaFeNewMexican.

The New Mexico Environment Department attorney, Felicia Orth, has recommended Valley Meat Co., owned by Rick DeLos Santos be denied the permit based on the record of Valley Meat when it was a beef slaughterhouse. In Orth's 49 page recommendation, she states:

“Valley Meat has violated both the Water Quality Act and the Solid Waste Act in numerous ways, consistently, for more than a decade... Valley Meat had “a long history of avoiding regulation."

“Under the applicable New Mexico statute, Section 74-6-5(E), if an applicant for a wastewater discharge permit such as VMC has, in the ten years prior to submitting its application, acted in willful disregard of environmental laws, the application must be denied."

Orth continued and stated:

“For years, Valley Meat failed to properly dispose of solid waste, specifically thousands of cubic yards of material consisting of bones, hides, and heads mixed with manure, in violation of New Mexico’s Solid Waste Act, ignored NMED’s requirements that it stop dumping, piling, and burying animal carcasses and parts around its facility, in willful disregard of New Mexico’s Solid Waste Act."

Valley Meat has 15 days to respond to Orth's decision.

Blair Dunn, the attorney for Valley Meat Co. stated the decision by Orth could be overturned by the State Environment Secretary, Ryan Flynn who has not made any decisions yet until reviewing all of the testimony and evidence.

Dunn also said his client could pursue an alternate system of pumping and hauling up to 8,000 gallons of sewage per day.

On December 31, New Mexico Attorney General Gary King filed a lawsuit against Valley Meat citing food safety issues, water quality issues, and unfair business practices.

State District Judge Matthew Wilson granted a temporary restraining order barring the opening of Valley Meat Co.

Read the full story by clicking here.

Horse meat is not sold in the United States. Valley Meat Co. will be shipping horse meat to other countries for human consumption. The last horse slaughter plant in the United States closed in 2007. In 2011, federal funding for horse slaughter house inspectors was reinstated; since then the controversy over horse slaughter in the US has continued to escalate with humane organizations fighting to keep the plants closed.

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