DNREC and Mountaire enter agreement that addresses Millsboro facility violations
After a lengthy investigation, DNREC is taking action against a Mountaire Millsboro facility. This comes after concerns over water contamination hit a fever pitch for dozens of residents in Millsboro.
"They had a systems failure last year in which there was improper maintenance that caused their waste water system and spray irrigation system not to operate the way that they had been permitted for," says DNREC Secretary Shawn Garvin.
This week DNREC and Mountaire announced they've entered into a consent decree, which is a a legal agreement that holds Mountaire accountable and forces the poultry company to take steps to fix the issue.
"This agreement does a number of things, one it memorializes the short term agreements so they will continue to take steps and invest in those. You know cleaning out the solids, making sure that the pumps and treatment get back to as close as normal as possible," says Secretary Garvin.
DNREC also lays out a plan to ensure something like this does not happen in the future, which includes Mountaire upgrading their waste water treatment facility.
Part of this agreement also requires Mountaire to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines for the violations. A strong message that DNREC hopes to send to all poultry companies.
"We want to work with our companies and make sure that everyone is being held accountable in what they need to do to protect human health and the environment," says Secretary Garvin.
DNREC says they will not pursue lawsuits against Mountaire. This agreement is the action they will be taking.
Mountaire did release a statement in response to the agreement:
"First, we are committed to having the long term system upgrades completed in just 24 months, and DNREC has agreed to expedite the permitting process to help us accomplish this objective. This cooperation is critical if we are to meet this accelerated time frame. 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.
Second, we have committed to providing a permanent alternative water supply to all of our closest neighbors who want it. Even though we know that the system upset could not have had an impact on local drinking water wells, we chose to offer this step to ease the concerns of the Millsboro community that is so important to us. The costs associated with this project will be partially offset by the civil penalty agreed to in the Consent Decree.
Third, because the system upset resulted in excess levels of nitrogen being applied to our spray fields, we have agreed to a process for treating high nitrate groundwater that will remove double the excess amount. To our knowledge, no other waste spray operation in Delaware is taking such steps to remove nitrates from the groundwater." – Michael Tirrell, Executive Vice President of Processing Operations, Mountaire Farms Inc.