DNREC and Mountaire Farms Enter Consent Decree After State Agenc - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

DNREC and Mountaire Farms Enter Consent Decree After State Agency Files Complaints

Posted: Jun 04, 2018 5:27 PM Updated:

MILLSBORO, Del.- On Monday, Delaware's Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control announced the agency has filed a complaint in Superior Court against Mountaire Farms in regards to the poultry company's wastewater violations.

As previously reported by WBOC, last fall DNREC issued a Notice of Violation to Mountaire Farms after a wastewater upset exceeded effluent limits of the company's spray permit. DNREC says Mountaire submitted a corrective action work plan and that significant improvements were made in the quality of the effluent in the months since.

In the new complaint, DNREC calls for Mountaire to make both short and long-term upgrades to the plant, put an environmental mitigation plan in place, and for Mountaire to supply an alternative water supply to people who live nearby, which Mountaire has done for months.

The complaint also asks the court to approve a consent decree signed by both Mountaire and DNREC, which according to DNREC "redresses those permit violations through monetary penalties and mitigation measures that abate the total nitrogen amount sprayed above permit limits by Mountaire’s Millsboro facility."

The decree asks Mountaire to reimburse DNREC $25,000 for expenses incurred during an investigation and pay $600,000 in civil penalties.

However, according to the decree, if Mountaire implements a "beneficial environmental offset project" -- it will reduce the penalty by 30 percent to $420,000 by offering an alternative water supply to those nearby.

DNREC says it has also filed a lawsuit in the United States District Court claiming Mountaire violated the Clean Water Act and the Resource Conversation and Recovery Act.  

In a statement to WBOC, Mountaire Farms says the consent decree will resolve the lawsuits filed by DNREC. The company is also pledging more change.

"While the worst aspects of the upset condition were brought under control very quickly, our plant is not back to operating at the level we want, and will not be until after both interim corrective measures and long-term system upgrades, in total costing $60 million, are completed," the statement reads in part.

In the statement, Mountaire says its long-term system upgrades will be complete in the next two years, and DNREC has agreed to expedite the permitting process to help with that. Mountaire's statement also reiterates the company's position that its wastewater upset could not have impacted local drinking water wells.

"We chose to offer this step to ease the concerns of the Millsboro community that is so important to us," the statement reads.

Mountaire says it has also agreed to a process for treating high nitrate ground water that will remove double the excess amount. 

"To our knowledge, no other waste spray operation in Delaware is taking such steps to remove nitrates from the groundwater," the statement reads. 

Mountaire's statement also includes statistics about nitrates the company has previously reported, such as claims that Sussex County historically has high levels of nitrates in its soil.

DNREC says once the company's wastewater treatment plant upgrades are complete, Mountaire will relocate its shallow production wells to spray fields where elevated levels of nitrates occur in the ground water. DNREC says the process will eventually "achieve a net reduction of nitrates in the ground water."

DNREC says a third party must monitor all of Mountaire's remedial measures going forward.

The consent decree and Mountaire's statement in full can both be read in the PDF attached below.

 

 

 

 

 

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