The beef processing facility Missouri Prime Beef Packers is proposing to discharge 350,000 gallons per day of their waste directly into the Pomme de Terre River. This facility is located in Polk County outside Pleasant Hope, Missouri. The Missouri Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is currently evaluating this proposal via an Antidegradation Review. The formal public comment period on the Antidegradation Review ended on June 26, 2023. Read on for an issue summary as well as the comment letter written by Missouri Coalition for the Environment and Great Rivers Environmental Law Center, co-signed by the Sierra Club Missouri Chapter.

Issue Summary

  • This wastewater would contain multiple contaminants, including E. coli, fecal coliform, oil/grease, nitrogen, phosphorus, and potentially chlorine. 
  • There is limited public data on the current water quality status of the Pomme de Terre River. The most recent samples in DNR’s public water quality database are dated to 2020 (link). However, we do know that DNR has proposed to the EPA that it be added to the list of Missouri’s impaired waters for E. coli. E. coli is one of the contaminants that this waste would put directly into the river. 
  • Missouri Prime Beef Packers began operating at the facility in 2021 and has a history of noncompliance with regulations. Up until now, Missouri Prime Beef Packers have been spreading their waste on land in order to dispose of it. They have been cited by DNR for issues such as their waste running off the land they apply to (link, pg 4). Since April and May of this year, there are two Notices of Violation against Missouri Prime Beef Packers that have not been officially resolved with a return to compliance. The EPA has also found them noncompliant for failing to conduct and report sampling results for their waste. This history of noncompliance is especially concerning in light of the experimental technology the company is proposing to treat their wastewater with. You can see further information about the facility’s violations with this DNR database as well as this EPA website.
  • The proposed wastewater treatment system (iLeaf) would use multiple types of unnamed microorganisms to break down pollutants in the waste water. This treatment system is a new one, reportedly only used at one other facility in the country. Due to the experimental nature of the technology, DNR expressed the need to monitor if this technology is effective during its use at Missouri Prime Beef Packers (link, pg 18). As of right now, there is no proposed contingency plan for addressing every pollutant if the technology were to fail. 

Comment Letter to Department of Natural Resources


  1. 1
    Delma LaFiore on July 1, 2023

    Thank You so very very much ! I am a small land owner 45 acres with 11 acres of river bottom land on the Pomme de Terre River. I am located not far from Missouri Beef Packers Facility, as a crow flies I am about a mile downstream. My river neighbors have been dealing with oozing piles of offal and blood on their properties during hard rains. I didn’t realize this was happening and did not check mine . Another neighbor watched the wastewater tankers park on a nearby little flat water bridge and direct dump into the little stream,and another friend tells me they caught the tankers dumping into a old quarry close to the river. I am caught in a triangle of hell with my little place at the mercy of not only a river that floods the entire basin and has been carrying their wastewater downstream but two the little streams that flow thru my property carrying the wastewater across my land and from the sprayed fields upstream owned by other people. On my right side we have a owner of the holding pens for the cattle to be slaughtered. The stench at times gags me from dead cattle, their bones litter my fields next to him, and we spent weeks fighting off the vultures lining up on our roof and sitting on the ground around our home. Sometimes the flies are so bad we cannot grill outside. I have no idea at this point if my well is safe to drink or will be in the future so we have been drinking bottled water. I have no idea what diseases, bacterial, or chemicals have crossed my land or will in the future. I have no idea what the cows next door in the holding pens die from, some of them are living nightmares staggering around,lying on the ground unable to get up. It keeps me up at night unable to sleep from thinking of possibilities such as mad cow disease or anthrax. I am at a level of high anxiety wondering if we have lost property value because our little place is part of our retirement portfolio.

    1. 2
      linda oliver on August 27, 2023

      have you been to the newspapers? I would document what you are seeing and get it on television. That is atrocious. I used to live there and have a lake lot at Pomme De Terre and frankly just heard about this. The Facebook page on Pomme de Terre water watch dogs is having a meeting tomorrow night. I see you are on there.

  2. 3
    Elaine on July 16, 2023

    A nightmare coming to a city near you. I have severe environmental anxiety of all these types of careless destruction of our flora and fauna. We are all non-renewable resource extracting consumers. I am only one of 8B and do my best to protect our planet. I am so sorry for your dilemma. It seems our only concerns are tailgate parties and mani/pedi’s- SAD.

  3. 4
    Cathy Raber on July 21, 2023


  4. 5
    Ken Steuber on July 24, 2023

    Absolutely not! Our lake is rated very good on water quality and to put that at risk is just plain stupid.

  5. 6
    Taner Hunt on August 11, 2023

    It’s absolutely mind blowing that this is even happening. How are they even in business? Sounds like land owner around there need to be talking to lawyers. This is some Erin Brockovich type of crap. Why isn’t the city of Pleasant Hope doing anything about it. The beef packing plant is in city limits. Someone’s pockets are getting lined very well from this.

    1. 7
      Dennis on October 3, 2023

      There trying to dispose of the waste as cheaply as possible instead of installing a known disposal system that has bin proven to work.

  6. 8
    Vincent Wright on August 13, 2023

    What the hell !?!? This is utter craziness. Wonder which of our corrupt politicians got a big kick back to let this happen ?

  7. 9
    Rebecca Dyer-Starks on August 13, 2023

    We elect people to protect our interests. It is in no one’s best interest to pollute our rivers and streams because it’s the most convenient and least costly option for a company. In the end, we all pay the price. Simply put, they need to find a better solution to THEIR problem or stop doing business at the expense of our environment.

  8. 10
    David Felkner on August 30, 2023

    Both the Pomme de Terre River and the Pomme de Terre Lake are currently listed on the EPA’s Missouri’s Clean Water Act Section 303(d) List. The 303(d) list indicates an E. coli impairment for the river and a Chlorophyll-a impairment for the lake. The Chlorophyll impairment is a measure of the amount of algae in the lake and it primarily caused from high concentrations of phosphorus and nitrogen. Allowing 350,000 gallons of waste water per day that contains phosphorus and nitrogen is not prudent and will only increase the problem with Chlorophyll in the lake. Heather Peters from Missouri DNR told me face-to-face that releasing additional amounts of phosphorus and nitrogen would not affect the lake. I am not a chemist (I am an engineer) but it seems to me that “any” additional addition of phosphorus and nitrogen would only make the problem worse, not better. The water quality in the Pomme de Terre lake improved in 2020 and was removed from the 303(d) impairment list. Now in 2023, the lake has been added back on the list primarily due to an algae bloom that occurred in the lake in 2020. It is interesting to note that the water quality improved approximately 1 year after the previous owner of the slaughter closed their doors and the water quality decreased again approximately 1 year after Missouri Prime Beef Packers re-opened the facility. Heather Peters tried to tell me the increase in Chlorophyll-a was a result of fertilizer run off. That seems odd to me because the use of fertilizer in the last 3 years is down due to the high cost of fertilizer. Heather would like us to believe that the water quality in the lake improved during times of normal fertilizer use and the water quality in the lake decreased during low fertilizer use. If that is the case, how can fertilizer be causing the water degradation? Missouri DNR should not allow the proposed discharge. The waterway already has too much nitrogen and phosphorus in the water, regardless of the source.

  9. 11
    Cleo Kottwitz on September 6, 2023

    Lake Pomme de Terre has been a favorite family camping/water skiing site. Do not make it toxic!!

  10. 12
    Steve Lenz on September 15, 2023

    Pomme de Terre is a diamond in the rough. It is the driving force for business in Hickory and Polk counties. Very good fishing and water quality. The discharge into the PDT river would drastically change the aquatic ecosystem in both the river and lake. The Corp, DNR , MDC and the EPA should take a firm stand against such an obvious pending death sentence for a beautiful a river and lake that provides jobs and recreation for thousands of people. The waste generated by the packing plant is their problem , not the citizens of Missouri or their natural resources.

  11. 13
    Dennis on October 3, 2023

    There trying to dispose of the waste as cheaply as possible instead of installing a known disposal system that has bin proven to work.

  12. 14
    Dennis on October 3, 2023

    This is not the only pollutants going into our river and lake. You have debris from boaters, campers alike. Almost every summer I’ve pick up trash on the dead end lake access road behind my house. Empty oil containers, Styrofoam cups, Styrofoam from old docks and so on.
    When the lake rises and the wind blows all the trash that floats ends up in the woods around the lake when the water goes back down it gets deposited way back in the woods.
    I’ve seen it year after year when I’m hunting for Morels.

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