BioEnergy trying to move forward with facility expansion, environmental groups push back
SEAFORD, Del. – BioEnergy Devco is a company focused on using Anaerobic Digester to turn organic waste into renewable natural gas or energy, and healthy soil. Where it stands now, the facility in Seaford is turning poultry waste into compost. “We had to become more effective on how to manage materials that other people consider waste, where many people consider the opportunity,” says Peter Ettinger, Chief Strategy Officer at BioEnergy.
The goal now would be to expand and create a larger facility to gather poultry waste, that would help with water pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. The compost would be taken outside of the area, as we clean up our waterways and air. “Allow you to environmentally in a smart way manage waste that typically would go to an incinerator or typically go to a landfill and be able to create these great products from it,” says Ettinger. He adds, “So not only are we dealing with business issues but were also dealing with smart environmental issues.”
Ettinger tells us, these Anaerobic Digesters have been flourishing across the pond in Europe and states the agriculture business and climate are benefitting from these types of facilities. “Waste, we all eat we all create waste, whether you’re in the poultry industry or whether you’re in the consumer or organics industry, there is a material that today is not going to be taken to landfill it is not going to be taken to incineration,” says Ettinger. He adds, “Let’s be able to bring the materials here to an Anaerobic Digester, let’s put that in a completely enclosed process, let’s make sure that we manage the air. We manage the water, we manage healthy soil, and let’s be able to go and do something important not only to the community but be able to go and support an industry that’s so important here in Sussex County.”
Meanwhile, environmentalist and Executive Director for the Delaware Center for Inland Bays Chris Bason says, both issues can be addressed with this facility. “It’s really important that this facility succeed and be done right and regulated because we would benefit from more of these facilities.” He adds, “It’s a really important development for our area and it needs to be taken seriously.”
While BioEnergy is trying to help the environment by turning waste into compost, some community groups aren’t too keen on the idea. “We believe that the production of this biogas from this facility will lead to air pollution, water pollution, and ultimately worsen climate change,” says Greg Layton, with Delaware Food and Water Watch.
According to Layton, this facility will do more harm than good. Layton tells 47 ABC, Delmarva has some of the highest levels of nitrate solution, and he says this facility wouldn’t help. Layton tells us, it could create traffic congestions, additional methane concerns, and much more. “The current proposal is just a false solution, it won’t solve the problem with poultry pollution, in fact, it’ll just make money off of it and worsen the problem,” says Layton. He adds, “We believe we should phase out factory farms hopefully with government support to transition farmers to more sustainable methods to raising agriculture, and raising poultry.”
However, according to Bason and Ettinger, the benefits far outweigh the concerns and they and other environmental groups are prepared to get their hands dirty to make sure it shows. “It’s not just water pollution that has to be taken seriously, we need to make sure there’s no run-off from the site but it’s also air quality,” says Bason. Ettinger quotes Senator Tom Carper and adds, “When asked do I have to choose a healthy environment or a healthy poultry industry, said I’ll choose both.”
On Saturday afternoon, Food and Water Watch along with Delaware Working Families Party are going door-to-door to community members in Seaford in hopes of stopping the facility from expanding.
BioEnergy is currently in the permit process with DNREC waiting on approval and if that happens, there will be a public hearing.
Officials with BioEnergy say they are willing to have discussions with community members and provide tours of the facility.
To contact BioEnergy and book a tour, click here.