DNREC outlines permitting process for chicken waste to gas plant

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The Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control outlined the permitting process that will allow Bioenergy Devco to build a plant that will convert chicken waste to natural gas and composting material.

On Wednesday, DNREC Secretary Shawn M. Garvin approved permits associated with the expansion of Bioenergy Devco, LLC’s Seaford site. Contrary to a statement from Food & Water Watch, Gov. John Carney does not issue such orders. Bioenergy Devco already accepts poultry industry waste for composting.

The DNREC Secretary’s Order approves five new permits for BDC, including:

  • A Resource Recovery Permit from the DNREC Division of Waste and Hazardous Substances;
  • Two 7 DE Admin. Code 1102 Natural Minor air quality permits from the DNREC Division of Air Quality and
  • Two wastewater facility construction permits from the DNREC Division of Water.

The permits are published at the DNREC website at de.gov/biodevco. The permitting process for BDC’s biogas production “included a significant amount of outreach to and from the community,” Garvin stated in the DNREC order. “The permits being issued to BDC are reflective of the applications submitted to DNREC, the comments provided by the public on this matter during the public comment period and the Oct. 26, 2022, public hearing, as well as being consistent with our mission to protect human health and the environment.”

Once the impacted DNREC divisions issue the permits, BDC will be authorized by the State of Delaware to initiate the construction phase of the Seaford facility’s expansion. When construction has been completed and certified by DNREC, Bioenergy Devco will begin operating the anaerobic digester in addition to the existing composting facility. Composting operations at BDC’s Seaford facility have continued throughout the permitting process.

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Once BDC’s expanded Seaford operations reach full capacity, it will process an expected 250,000 tons of organic wastes from the poultry industry annually into compost, which can be used regionally to replace chemical fertilizers – along with the biogas – renewable natural gas – produced and injected into Chesapeake Utilities’ pipelines for use by the utility’s Sussex County customers.

BDC’s poultry waste processing is expected to lessen the nutrient burden on local watersheds, helping reduce pollution and nutrient runoff within Delaware and the Chesapeake Bay, a DNREC release stated.

The plant was opposed by Washington, D.C.-based Food & Water Watch, which alleged the site would damage air quality and the overall environment.

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