The office of acting U.S. Attorney Laurie Magid said yesterday that it had filed a civil complaint against JBS Souderton Inc., a beef processing plant, for Clean Water Act violations that resulted in several fish kills over five years.

The Souderton company discharged excessive levels of fecal coliform, phosphorus and ammonia into the Skippack Creek, a tributary of the Perkiomen Creek and the Schuylkill, according to the complaint. It also alleges that the plant's operation and maintenance did not ensure compliance with regulations.

The company said in a statement that "active negotiatons" with state and federal environmental authorities to resolve the claims are "moving forward; all parties are hopeful that they will soon reach a settlement that will make further litigation unnecessary."

The plant employs more than 1,500 people, according to the company, which said it was the largest slaughtering and rendering operation east of Chicago, processing 2,000 head of cattle a day.

- Sandy Bauers