Skip navigation
× You have 2 more free articles available this month. Subscribe today.

Washington Prison's Water System and Meat Contaminated With Feces

On August 20, 2004, fecal coliform and E. coli were found in the water system at the McNeil Island Correction Center (MICC) near Steilacoom, Washington. E. coli was also found in about 6,000 pounds of ground beef produced at a meat processing plant on the Island prison. Both types of bacteria are caused by fecal contamination and can cause serious illness and death in humans.

Bottled water was provided for MICC prisoners for about a week while the bacteria were flushed from the water system. All subsequent tests have shown the water to be contaminant-free.

The meat in question was supposed to go to other Washington prisons and meal programs for the elderly, said Howard Yarbrough, head of the correctional industries work program in Washington prisons. Yarbrough said that the contaminated meat had been isolated for more tests and eventual destruction.

Yarbrough said that water used for meat processing on the island tested positive for the bacteria, without commenting on its source. Additionally, MICC administrators claim they do not know the bacteria's origin.

However, minimal investigation reveals the likely source of the fecal coliform. Between 1999 and 2002, the MICC wastewater p1ant operator submitted 36 falsified water reports in an attempt to conceal the fact that the water had fecal co1iform levels far above those allowed by law. That water collects in a reservoir on McNeil Island. See: PLN July 2004 issue p. 7 (Washington DOC Fined $60,000 for Bogus Water Pollution Reports). It appears likely that the fecal coliform's origin is the reservoir of polluted wastewater.

Unidentified MICC officials claimed they will continue to test the water for contamination. They also said they have plans to improve water distribution at MICC in the near future.

Source: The Tacoma News Tribune

As a digital subscriber to Prison Legal News, you can access full text and downloads for this and other premium content.

Subscribe today

Already a subscriber? Login