Millsboro Holds Hearing on Controversial Allen Harim Plant - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Millsboro Holds Hearing on Controversial Allen Harim Plant

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(Photo: WBOC) (Photo: WBOC)

MILLSBORO, Del. - On Tuesday evening, the Millsboro Town Hall was full of debate as the much anticipated public hearing on the potential Allen Harim chicken processing plant was initiated. Neighbors from many of the surrounding communities were in attendance to discuss the potential change of the now closed-down Vlasic Pickle plant to this new plant. 

In the region, there are two strong, definitive sides with passionate advocates. On one side of the argument are environmentalists and nearby residents who fear the new plant will cause environmental damage to the nearby Indian River. Meanwhile, many others are excited by the prospect of an expected 700 jobs being brought into Millsboro.

Jay Meyer lives a couple blocks away from the plant in a home, overlooking the Indian River and is in staunch opposition to the change. He is the head of a community group called "Protecting our Indian River," one which has been fighting this new plant since the beginning.

"In the end, this is what it's all about," he said as he looked out at the waters. "Look what you see here."

Meyer said the environmental effects are vast. He said he has gained the support of various environmental groups, such as the Sierra Club. He said one of the supporters was a retired veteran of the Environmental Protection Agency, who served for more than 30 years.

"There are two million chickens a week," he said referring to statistics he received from Allen Harim. "And seven gallons worth of water to clean each chicken. That's 14 million gallons of water - wastewater discharged into our river. That's the bottom line."

But many other people in the region have a different attitude about this potential change. Many regional groups have also come out in support of this policy, including Governor Jack Markell and Millsboro Mayor Robert Bryan.

"700 jobs is a big thing," Bryan said.

Bryan said environmental concerns were of course important, but he said he trusted DENRec to monitor the situation. Allen Harim just submitted a 47 page report to DENRec, which said the contaminated water would not leak into nearby rivers.

Bryan said the effects of these incoming jobs would be momentous for the town and the entire region as a whole.

"This is a boost," he said. "The opportunity for a big boost to the surrounding area."

State Representative John Atkins said the facility could be exactly what Sussex County's economy needs.

"In this economy this is 700 jobs to the area that could jumpstart the local economy and create a better living for a lot families," Atkins said.

A ruling on the proposed plan for the site is expected early next year. If the proposed plan is approved then a final plan will be presented and the public will have atleast 20 days to comment on the final plan for the proposed chicken processing facility in Sussex County.

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