Foes appeal clean-up ruling that could clear way for $100M poultry plant

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Vlasic MillsboroProtecting Our Indian River and Inland Bays Foundation, with the assistance of a Widener University law clinic, has filed an appeal with the Delaware Environmental Appeals Board on the proposed $100 million Allen Harim poultry plant in Millsboro.

The appeal, according to the group, challenges the December 24, 2013 order of the Secretary of the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control that approves a proposed remedial action plan at the site of the former Vlasic pickle plant.

The appeal was filed by Ken Kristl, Esq. and the Widener Environmental and Natural Resources Law Clinic. The Widener Clinic provides representation and legal assistance to public interest organizations and individuals on environmental matters in Delaware and other Mid-Atlantic states.

We are seeking to reverse the order,” said Cindy Wilton, a founding member of Protecting our Indian River. “The remediation plan that DNREC proposed misses the mark on so many levels that they simply need to go back to the drawing board and make solid, fair, realistic plans for reviving that site.”

The remedial plan determined by the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) was flawed in several key elements, according to the group.

The brownfield site that is slated to be converted into a poultry processing plant handling 104 million chickens  per year.

The group took note of the ownership of Allen Hiram by a Korean company in its release. The plant is expected to employ 700 and solidify the future of the broiler industry on the Delmarva Peninsula. It is expected to bring new technology and product lines to the area.

Testimony by Socially Responsible Agricultural Project (SRAP) engineer Kathy Martin highlighted what she saw as flaws in the on-site testing, particularly from the waste water treatment plant. Martin is a critic of factory farms.

This was a missed opportunity by DNREC to do things the right way,” said Payan. “Community health and environmental stability were back-burnered in favor of a quick fix that was no fix at all. This process should start again, and this time the citizens of Sussex County need to be respected and protected by its government agencies”

Opposition and litigation regarding the Allen Hiram project and a proposed Data Centers development in Newark has raised fears that Delaware will gain the reputation as a difficult place to do business.

It also marks a turning point in the relationship between the broiler industry and Sussex County residents who have typically supported the key driver of the economy.

In recent years however, migration of residents to the low-tax county may have resulted in more scrutiny of the industry, especially as more residents live closer to farms and processing sites. In addition, residents from the Washington, D.C. area have come to the county to retire – some come with experience in regulatory matters.

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