Mountaire Farms has withdrawn its Coastal Zone application to add a third chicken processing line to its Millsboro facility.
In a letter to the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control, Mountaire said the wastewater treatment facility for its processing plant is experiencing malfunctions. They said the malfunctions “have precluded reaching the post-expansion effluent levels forecast in the application…”
“Mountaire is acting diligently to implement interim corrective measures, as well as to develop long term system improvements that we anticipate will bring our effluent levels in line with what was anticipated when the application was filed,” wrote Mountaire's Executive Vice President of Business Strategy and Administration Michael Tirrell.
Maria Payan, a consultant from the Socially Responsible Agricultural Project, says for now it’s a victory for Millsboro residents. Many have complained about the smell coming from the plant.
“This facility in its current capacity is not operating in a way where the neighbors’ quality of life is being protected,” Payan said.
Jay Meyer lives a four mile drive away from Mountaire’s facility. By boat, he's even closer — about one mile from the processing plant.
“This past summer, the smell has been so putrid, I mean if you’ve ever smelled a cesspool, septic tank…it was so bad if we slept at night in the summer with our windows open it would just burn your eyes, burn your throat,” Meyer said.
Mountaire says they are working to fix their plant's malfunctions and bring sewage discharge levels to what they predicted when they filed to expand.
“Once we accomplish that goal, we will submit another application for a Coastal Zone Permit to expand our operation,” Tirrell said in an email to Delaware Public Media. “Mountaire is dedicated to being a good corporate citizen and an asset to the community; doing the right things in the right way.”
Mountaire filed a Coastal Zone application in May. They said expanding their processing plant would increase production by 18 percent.
There is only one company with an “active” application for a Coastal Zone permit. Croda, Inc. is applying for a permit to install a second heat and power system that would be fueled by landfill gas from the Cherry Island Landfill.