Local News

High Ammonia Levels Behind Smithfield Foods

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources is investigating high levels of ammonia behind Smithfield Foods in Sioux Falls. 

Investigators were notified last week that ammonia levels in the pork plant's discharge were higher than the regulatory standards.  Now they're concerned for fish and other forms of aquatic life in the Big Sioux River. 

Investigators from DENR are taking water samples from the Big Sioux River behind Smithfield Foods. 

"We are taking this very seriously and we are monitoring the situation, right now the levels are safe," Kelli Buscher administrator of surface water quality program with the DENR said.

Even though the water samples are safe for right now, they're still investigating and they're still concerned, because the levels could pose a threat to fish.  DENR says there is no risk to humans. 

"Well it's certainly not an acceptable situation and that's why we're investigating it and watching it closely," Buscher said. 

Buscher says so far there's been no evidence or any kind of impact to fish or the river.  

"We don't anticipate that there's going to be a fish kill and that's what our primary concern, because ammonia can be very toxic to aquatic life; especially to fish," Buscher said.  

The specific cause of the increased ammonia remains under investigation; however, Buscher says Smithfield is taking steps to reduce the concentrations discharging into the river. 

For now, DENR says it'll continue to monitor the situation and continue taking test samples to make sure the water remains safe. 

DENR requires Smithfield to sample its discharge and report any violations, which they immediatley did last week once they discovered the high levels.  Buscher says if the levels of ammonia continue to get higher, DENR could fine Smithfield or require it to take other corrective action. 



Latest News - Local

Click here for full weather details!