Nine billion animals are slaughtered every year; 55 million pounds of toxic pollutants produced by 32 slaughterhouses were dumped into America’s waterways in 2009.
Electricity to run slaughterhouses and pump their wastewater is the main source of greenhouse gases from slaughterhouses, accounting for 5 percent of beef-related emissions, 13 percent of pork’s and 24 percent of chicken’s. Emissions from chicken processing are relatively higher because it requires a high volume of water, and overall production emissions are lower.
Wastewater from slaughterhouses is among the largest contributors to toxic pollution in waterways – primarily nitrate pollution. Eight slaughterhouses consistently rank among the nation’s top 20 industrial polluters of surface water, responsible for discharging 30 million pounds of contaminants in 2009, including nitrogen, phosphorus and ammonia. Nitrates are a significant source of drinking water contamination in agricultural communities nationwide.