Delaware Public Media

More Millsboro residents file suit against Mountaire

Jul 2, 2018

More Millsboro-area residents are taking Mountaire Farms to court, filing a second suit against the poultry producer for allegedly contaminating groundwater with nitrates, endangering people’s health and devaluing property.

The law firm Nidel and Nase, LLC is representing the residents.  Their suit joins a similar complaint from the firm Baird Mandalas Brockstedt, LLC filed a few weeks ago.

Both allege Mountaire Farms is polluting the soil with nitrates by spraying treated chicken wastewater onto fields near its Milboro processing facility. But each citizen on the Nidel and Nase suit is filing their own specific claim of injury, whereas Baird Mandalas Brockstedt is filing a class action suit on behalf of all residents within a five-mile radius.

Attorney Chris Nidel says the legal strategy for the two complaints will be very different.

“They do differ significantly, but I think the ideas behind them addressing Mountaire’s waste disposal activities—to some extent both groundwater and air emission and the impacts of the groundwater effects and the air emissions—those are certainly concepts that are shared,” said Nidel.

In response to the latest lawsuit, Mountaire said in a statement, elevated levels of nirates is a very common widespread environmental condition due to decades of agricultural use, way before the arrival of Mountaire and certainly did not occur in just the past 18 years much less the past eight months.

Nidel says a backdrop of nitrate contamination is no excuse for Mountaire’s contribution to the current nitrate levels.

“It’s a repeated refrain from Mountaire, but it certainly has no legal or common sense merit,” he said.

Personal injury claims in the Nidel and Nase lawsuit include acute asthma, gastrointestinal issues and bacterial infection in the bloodstream. The lawsuit also references foul and offensive odors emitting from Mountaire’s spray irrigation fields.