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Community Members Voice Concerns With Allen Harim Facility at Thursday Public Hearing

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Allen Harim poultry processing facility in Harbeson (Source; WBOC) Allen Harim poultry processing facility in Harbeson (Source; WBOC)

HARBESON, Del. - Neighbors and environmental advocates flocked to a public hearing on Thursday night to voice their concerns with the expansion of the Allen Harim facility in Harbeson. The poultry company is looking to expand its poultry operations to just under 2-million birds processed per week, by later this summer. 

The public hearing, hosted by the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control, focused on phase two of the company's plans to improve the wastewater treatment facility on the site. The company is looking to build a "four stage" nutrient removal system, that would remove approximately 97 percent of the nutrients from the water. The company also wants to add a "water reclamation system" that would recycle up to 1 million gallons of water per day. 

The meeting, which had approximately 45 people in attendance, lasted for less than an hour, and in the end no decision was made. The public comment period will be left open for another seven days, before a decision will be made. 

At an April 25 meeting, close to 100 neighbors gathered at the Milton Fire Hall to voice their concerns with the plan, due to problems of noise, traffic, odor, trash, and environmental pollution. Bob Lawson, from the Harbeson Improvement Association, said improvements need to be made. 

"They need to be a better neighbor," he said. "The noise - the smell is the biggest thing now. And this upgrade - there's nothing dealing with this."

Allen Harim told WBOC that the treatment improvements are needed so that it is able to keep up with the desired production. 

"The upgrade involves state-of-the art nutrient removal technology," said the company in a statement. "That will significantly reduce nutrient loadings into Beaverdam Creek."

Perhaps the most vocal person at the April meeting was Maria Payan of Selbyville, who is an environmental advocate for the Socially Responsible Agricultural Project. She said the upgrades should be fully completed before any production increases begin. 

"The whole problem with this phase is we want to make sure that they are not going to double their production until this is done. And they have not been able to make that guarantee for us."

As far as dealing with traffic concerns, Allen Harim said it has hired an off-duty police officer to help direct traffic during peak travel times. The company has also contacted DNREC, which has been on site clearing Beaverdam Creek of fallen trees and other natural debris that "have impeded water flow in the area."

"Allen Harim remains committed to being a good neighbor in Harbeson," said the company in a statement. "And will continue to reach out to neighbors and community members to work toward solutions." 

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