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DNREC, Mountaire Farms entering into settlement

Katie Peikes
Delaware Public Media
Mountaire Farms' Millsboro facility.

State environmental officials have filed a complaint against Mountaire Farms in state Superior Court regarding 2017 wastewater violations, the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control announced Monday.

DNREC's complaint to Mountaire requests that the company make short-term and longterm corrections and upgrades to its processing facility. DNREC also wants Mountaire to offer an alternative drinking water supply to affected residents.

DNREC wants Delaware Superior Court to approve a settlement in which Mountaire will pay a $600,000 penalty for the excess amount of contaminated water it applied to agricultural land near its Millsboro facility in 2017. DNREC also requests $25,000 in investigation expenses.

The settlement would allow Mountaire to conduct an environmental offset project, bringing the penalty down to $420,000.

A press release issued by Mountaire Farms indicates Mountaire signed the agreement and will pay the penalty.

Mountaire is working to upgrade its treatment plant, which is required by the settlement. The company said in a statement that longterm system upgrades should be completed in two years.

Mountaire called the upset condition it experienced in 2017 at its wastewater treatment plant "unfortunate," but the company says it is committed to finishing upgrades at the plant in the next two years.

"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," Mountaire said.

The company added, "Once these system upgrades are complete, we believe our wastewater treatment plant will be the most modern in Sussex County, if not all of Delaware."

After the upgrades are complete, DNREC says Mountaire will relocate its shallow production wells to spray fields that have elevated nitrate levels in the groundwater. The company will use this well water for processing in their facility and will treat the water at its upgraded treatment plant, before it applies it to agricultural land.



DNREC- Mountaire Farms of Delaware Inc. Consent Decree by Delaware Public Media on Scribd

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