DNREC Gets Heat From Community Members at a Permit Renewal Heari - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

DNREC Gets Heat From Community Members at Permit Renewal Hearing for Mountaire Farms

Posted: Jun 14, 2018 10:30 PM Updated:

MILLSBORO, Del.- Community members requested a public hearing to express their concerns to the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control for a permit renewal request from Mountaire Farms.

The poultry company is looking to renew its transporter permit for non-hazardous liquid waste, essentially sludge.  DNREC says Mountaire is currently disposing of these "industrial biosolids" on three active farms in Sussex County.  After a class action lawsuit was filed on Wednesday, DNREC says they are continuing to monitor Mountaire's permits. 

"I do want to take this opportunity to assure everyone here that DNREC continues to monitor Mountaire's operations and corrective actions very closely and we will continue to work with Mountaire to assure all corrective measures are expeditiously implemented and maintained," DNREC Hearing Officer Lisa Vest said. 

While the public hearing had nothing to do with the legal actions between Mountaire and Baird, Mandalas & Brockstedt LLC, the permit does address some of the concerns detailed in the lawsuit. Some community members even saying they've lost trust in DNREC's authority to oversee Mountaire's permits amidst the legal actions. 

"You have to think of the people! And you haven't been doing it," Joanne Haynes said. 

Joanne's husband, Ken, added that he believes renewing this permit will only allow Mountaire to continue contaminating the groundwater. 

"I'm calling for a complete moritorium on all Mountaire permits and requests until our wells are drinkable," Ken said.

But DNREC Environmental Engineer Katharyn Potter says it isn't a possibility until the department reviews all of its own regulations, not just those with Mountaire Farms.

"Oh, there are lots of things I think would be really good next time the regulations are amended, but right now the way the regulations are, we can't change them company to company," Potter said. 

When asked at the hearing on Thursday night, DNREC officials did not wish to comment on the consent decree they have with Mountaire.

An attorney representing Mountaire Farms was present at the hearing and gave a statement about the company's renewal request.  The attorney and Mountaire officials said they did not wish to comment on the class action lawsuit because the company had not been served as of Thursday.

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