Proposed horse slaughter plant hits road block

Posted at: 06/06/2013 10:10 PM
Updated at: 06/06/2013 10:24 PM
By: Lauren Hansard, KOB Eyewitness News 4

The plans to convert a cattle plant into a horse slaughterhouse in New Mexico have hit yet another road block.

The Valley Meat Company is still waiting for final approval to slaughter horses, but that seems to keep getting farther away.

Owner Rick de los Santos said the Department of Agriculture keeps changing the rules. He said he believes because they oppose horse slaughter.

"I can slaughter cattle, hogs, goats, sheep in the same facility and not have no issues.  But if I want to slaughter horses there is all these new regulations that they just come up with and make up as we are going," said de los Santos.

Officials are now questioning if the plant needs a permit under the federal Clean Water Act. But the plant didn't need that permit for the 20 years they slaughtered cattle.

The permit is for discharging waste into water, but the plant already has a closed lagoon water system.

“We have a permit with the state of New Mexico, EPA to discharge 8,000 gallons of water per day into our discharge lagoons that are evaporative," De los Santos said.

De los Santos and his attorney are asking why the permit is necessary for a horse facility, but not for a cattle facility.

For now de los Santos will have to keep waiting.

"Tell me yes or tell me no, but tell me something. But they refuse to say anything," said de los Santos.