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Ex-Cargill beef plant worker fined in Alta. court

(Dave Bedard photo)

Reuters — A former worker at Cargill’s High River, Alta. beef plant has been fined for tampering with wastewater samples required by the province, Alberta officials said Wednesday.

Cargill Ltd., the Canadian division of the privately held U.S. company, was required by Alberta to study the plant’s wastewater, and limit the amount of phosphorus discharged into a nearby lake. Phosphorus can deplete oxygen needed to support aquatic life.

The worker tampered with three treated wastewater samples in February and March, 2012 by injecting alum, a substance that made phosphorus content appear artificially low, according to a statement of agreed facts from Alberta Provincial Court.

Cargill notified the government’s environment department of potential errors in its wastewater report in April 2012. A court fined Cargill $80,000 earlier this year for failing to immediately report the incidents. [Related story]

The court also fined former Cargill employee Pushp Pal Singh $7,500, the provincial government said. Singh resigned his job with Cargill in 2012.

The government said there is no evidence of environmental harm from the incident.

Cargill conducted an internal investigation and reported the findings to Alberta officials, company spokesman Mike Martin said, adding that Cargill does not condone the employee’s actions.

The company took corrective actions to get its facility into compliance with regulations, he said.

– Reporting for Reuters by Rod Nickel in Winnipeg.

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