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Sussex County Council OK's Mountaire request to increase spray irrigation land

Katie Peikes
Delaware Public Media

Mountaire Farms got the go-ahead to spray its wastewater on more land in Sussex County. 

Sussex County Council voted unanimously Tuesday to approve Mountaire’s land use request to allow spray irrigation with treated wastewater from the poultry processor’s Millsboro facility onto 350 acres off Route 24.

This grows Mountaire’s spray irrigation land by a little more than a third.

As he voted in favor Tuesday, District 3 Councilman IG Burton added the project deserves oversight to make sure it’s environmentally safe.

“I believe that there are safeguards in there, I hope, but my motion is for approval,” said Burton.

This expansion has seen pushback from neighboring residents concerned the approval allows Mountaire to spray both treated waste from industrial poultry processing and sewage from the facility itself.

Mountaire representatives have said there are no plans to increase production at the Millsboro plant, and the chicken processor could use the extra fields to spray during different times of the year when crops in other fields are not growing.

“I think this is an example of a corporate neighbor doing absolutely the right thing and I’m very glad to see it,” said District 5 Councilman John Riley at Tuesday’s vote. “I vote yes based on Planning and Zoning’s recommendations.”        

Mountaire Farms is currently being sued by Millsboro-area residents who allege the sprayed wastewater is contaminating groundwater with nitrates and endangering their health.

DNREC fined Mountaire hundreds of thousands of dollars late last year on separate wastewater violations and ordered the company to offset harm done to the environment.    

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