The Iowa Department of Natural Resources reported that a short in a power panel caused wastewater to back up and bypass the facility's industrial treatment system. Mike Martin, a spokesman for Cargill, said the back-up system had a frozen pipe that runs from the main plant to the water treatment portion of the facility. Approximately 20,000 gallons was discharged before the line was thawed, Martin said. The storm sewer flows into the Des Moines River.
The discharge included water containing animal fat and protein, but state views this as having no negative impact, he added. The DNR said it would continue to monitor the situation.
The Ottumwa plant employs 2,400 workers and processes 18,000 to 19,000 hogs per day.