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Environmental watchdog threatens to sue Mountaire Farms over Clean Water Act violations


The Mid-Atlantic Environmental Law Center, representing environmental watchdog group Food and Water Watch, says it’s discovered that Mountaire’s poultry processing plant in Selbyville is exceeding pollution limits by large amounts.

The pollutants include oil and grease, ammonia nitrate and enterococci, a type of bacteria that’s linked with poultry. They claim that for about five years, pollutants have been discharging into the Sandy Branch section of the St. Martin River, close to the Maryland border. The St. Martin River is also one of the most unhealthy areas in the Maryland Coastal Bays.

Hannah Leone, a fellow at the Mid-Atlantic Environmental Law Center, said that the pollution needs to be addressed.


“Aquatic is being affected. Public health is being affected. And people aren’t going to want to recreate in waters that are polluted," said Leone.


Leone explained that one major source of the pollution is chicken droppings. Often, trucks carrying the animals will stall at the plant, allowing droppings to fall to the ground and get washed away into Sandy Branch. Mountaire had attempted to remedy this problem by building a structure to catch the droppings. However, Leone says that it’s either not being used properly or it’s not working altogether.


“We’re really not sure why that’s not fixing the problem, whether it’s not an adequate fix or if they’re not putting trucks underneath the structure. We’re not really sure what’s going on," said Leone.

The Food and Water Watch has sent Mountaire a notice of intent to sue in 60 days. Mountaire Farms did not immediately respond to calls for comment.


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