Legal Battle Continues Over Proposed Allen Harim Plant - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Legal Battle Continues Over Proposed Allen Harim Plant

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(Photo: WBOC) (Photo: WBOC)

MILLSBORO, Del.- The legal battle continues over a proposed Allen Harim chicken processing plant in Millsboro, after an environmental group filed an appeal against the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control. As a result, the fate of 700 jobs are up in the air, as the courts will decide the future of the plant. 

The debate all began in 2012, when the Vlasic Pickle Plant shut down, leading to the loss of hundreds of jobs. In December of 2013, DNREC then issued an order that allowed Allen Harim to set up shop in that location, under a Brownfield remediation plan. 

In January, "Protecting Our Indian River," an environmental group made up of mostly neighbors appealed DNREC's decision, arguing that the plant would be environmentally damaging to the Indian River. That appeal was shut down by the Environmental Appeals Board. 

Now in the latest legal action from the environmental group, Protecting Our Indian River has filed an appeal to the board's decision. That means that attorneys from all sides will need to file written arguments for Judge Richard Stokes of the Superior Court of Delaware in Sussex County. Once all briefs are filed, Stokes will have 90 days to make a decision. 

Jay Meyer is one of the leaders of Protecting Our Indian River, who said the dumping is degrading the Indian River. 

"It's a heart-breaker," he said. "It's a heart-brewer to know that everything you worked so hard for is about to be destroyed."

Meyer said that his objection to this remediation plan is simple. He doesn't want to see any dumping into the river that is adjacent to his home. 

"Twelve million gallons of wastewater every week for the next 30 years into a river," he said. "A tributary that runs into Dewey Beach, Bethany Beach, Assawoman Canal and everything. Why would they allow something like that to be dumped into the river for the next 30 years."

WBOC reached out to Allen Harim, which said that they already employ about 1,000 Delaware residents. They said they expect to add about 700 more jobs with this new plant. That is something that Millsboro Mayor Bob Bryan said is just too good to pass up. 

"Think about 700 people that will get a paycheck every Friday," he said. "A lot of those people right now aren't getting checks. They're not working. They're unemployed." 

In court documents, the appeal filed by Kenneth Kristl said that the board's decision was biased. 

"A decision and final order is arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion, contrary to law, and not supported by substantial evidence," the document said. 

Meyer agreed, using more harsh language. 

"It was basically a kangaroo court," he said. "The appeals board is basically all people appointed by Gov. [Jack] Markell. They're paid by Gov. Markell. I think some of them are former DNREC employees. So the cards were stacked against us no matter what information we had as far as us winning that appeal." 

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