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Tonganoxie School District in Kansas underscores opposition to Tyson plant

bariskaradeniz/iStock/Thinkstock Chicken farm
STRONG OPPOSITION: Leavenworth County, Kan., continues to underscore strong opposition to a proposal from Tyson to build a chicken processing plant, hatchery and feed mill near Tonganoxie, The company has said it will look at alternate sites.
Board resolution cites concerns about the health and welfare of district students and staff at schools located near the proposed site.

Residents of Leavenworth County, Kan., are underscoring their opposition to a proposed Tyson Foods poultry complex.

After Leavenworth County withdrew from an agreement to provide $500 million in industrial revenue bonds for the project on Sept. 19, Tyson announced it would look elsewhere for the complex, which is to include a hatchery, feed mill and processing plant.

The agreement for the revenue bonds was made at a time when officials were referring to the project as “Project Sunset,” and withdrawn when they learned at the announcement on Sept. 5 that the plan was a poultry processing operation.

On Oct. 9, the Tonganoxie WSD464 Board of Education joined the official opposition. The board noted that the site is close to the Tonganoxie (Kan.) Elementary and Middle School. The board resolution said the project “may adversely affect the lives of more than 1,400 students and 100 staff members.”

Concerns include, but are not limited to, potential adverse health effects from pollutants; diminished athletic instruction resulting from noxious smells; possible classroom disruption as a result of plant discharges; diminished athletic training and participation; potential degradation of air quality; potential toxic exposure of playgrounds and playground equipment; and potential toxic releases from the plant, endangering the health and safety of students and staff. Full text of the resolution can be found at boarddocs.com/ks/tong464/Board.nsf/Public.

The organized effort against the plant is called Citizens Against Project Sunset.

“We deeply appreciate the school board’s support of our children’s health and safety,” says Cecilia Pruitt, a nurse and CAPS volunteer who lives in Tonganoxie and was present during the meeting.

The Tonganoxie City Council on Oct. 2 unanimously voted to oppose the project and retract previous support to extend the city’s sanitary sewer system to the location.

Officials in both Saline and Reno counties have reached out to Tyson to suggest alternate sites in their region.

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