Allen Harim permitted to proceed with deboning operation

GEORGETOWN — Allen Harim LLC has the green light from the Sussex County Board of Adjustment to proceed with deboning operation plans at its Millsboro facility.

With a 4-0 vote Sept. 17, the board of adjustment supported Dale Callaway’s motion to allow Allen Harim to proceed, contingent upon the poultry firm obtaining “appropriate permits from DNREC for the proper treatment and disposal of the wastewater from limited processing and packing facilities approved by the board.”

Mr. Callaway, Bruce Mears, E. Brent Workman and board chairman John Mills approved the motion that amends a condition imposed in July by the board through findings of fact stipulating “the spray irrigation updated with new technology must be up and running prior to operation.”

The permits in question are for hauling wastewater from the Millsboro site to its Harbeson slaughtering facility for treatment and another for a spray irrigation disposal system at Allen Harim’s Millsboro site, which is the former Pinnacle Vlasic pickle plant on Iron Branch Road. Until spray irrigation is operational, Allen Harim is seeking to truck upward of 40,000 gallons of wastewater daily from Millsboro to its Harbeson plant for treatment, with Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control permitting approval.

“I am in favor of them hauling it. Give them a year or two years to get that wastewater treatment plant up,” said Mr. Callaway. “I don’t want to shut them down.”

Assistant County Attorney Jamie Sharp noted that at the Aug. 20 public hearing there was testimony on Allen Harim’s behalf that the company is exploring a water re-use process, which differed from the first hearing.

“The concern I guess that you could run into is what if it turns out they don’t need spray irrigation. Or maybe they don’t get permitted for it,” said Mr. Sharp.

Mr. Callaway, in making his motion, stated that “DNREC through its rules and regulations will have the jurisdiction to protect the county and its waterways and the harmful effects of air and water pollution of any type. DNREC’s extensive involvement in the permitting process indicates that it will make sure that the public health, safety, morals and general welfare will be properly protected and that the necessary safeguards will be provided for protection of the water areas and the surrounding property and the persons.”

Allen Harim’s request for the hauling of wastewater met stiff opposition, mainly focusing on increased truck traffic.

Opponents have challenged Allen Harim’s deboning plans from the very start. Their concerns include noise, odor, dust, truck traffic, explosion and fire potential and air and water pollution. Opponents have also challenged Allen Harim’s track record and what they claim is DNREC’s lack of enforcement.

In discussion prior to the board’s Sept. 17 vote, Mr. Mills once again stated that opponents “had concerns about wastewater contaminating the wells and so forth. It really makes no sense to me to not want this to be removed from the property and eliminate any potential hazard to the surrounding properties. Then, all of a sudden, the opposition is in opposition to that. It’s strange to me.”

Mr. Mears tendered an initial motion that drew no support.

“I’m going to make a motion that we totally eliminate the condition. I know the opposition thinks we should be responsible for the governing of their environmental concerns but that’s not the job of this board. That’s in DNREC’s hands,” said Mr. Mears.

His motion died for lack of a second.

Allen Harim plans to utilize approximately 50,000 square feet of the 460,000-square-foot facility for its deboning and packing operation. The facility also houses Allen Harim’s new corporate headquarters, a consignment warehouse operation that stores boxes and other packaging materials from International Paper and other vendors that are used in Allen Harim’s production process.

 

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