DNREC accepting written comment on proposed Mountaire decree

DOVER – Delaware’s Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control is accepting until March 2 written comment on the proposed consent decree with Mountaire Farms of Delaware, Inc., to resolve spray irrigation/land application permit violations cited by DNREC in a Nov. 2, 2017 notice of violation.

On Feb. 1, DNREC published a notice of lodging of the agreement and proposed consent decree in the Delaware Register of Regulations, soliciting public written comments.

Because the notice of lodging of the agreement is outside of DNREC’s standard public notice, there will be no public hearing held regarding this matter.

The Dec. 13, 2019 agreement follows DNREC’s initial June 2018 action against Mountaire for alleged violations via the filing of a complaint in Delaware Superior Court against Mountaire. The 2018 complaint was stayed by Delaware Superior Court pending resolution of a parallel action in federal court.

Mountaire faces several lawsuits filed in 2018 representing hundreds of area residents over suspected groundwater contamination that includes high nitrate levels.

To formalize ongoing and required corrective actions resulting from the September 2017 wastewater treatment plan failure, DNREC and Mountaire have finalized an agreement based on the consent decree proposed in June 2018.

The agreement may be viewed on the DNREC website at http://www.dnrec.delaware.gov/Info/Documents/agreement-and-proposed-consent-decree-dnrec-and-mountaire-20191213.pdf.

It may also be viewed at the Clerk’s Office, United States District Court for the District of Delaware, 844 North King St, Unit 18, Wilmington, DE.

Portions of the notice of lodging state:

“The agreement resolves claims alleging violations of the Clean Water Act, the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, and state law as described in the agreement. In the agreement, (Mountaire) commits to: pay a civil penalty; construct a major upgrade to its wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) at its Millsboro, Delaware facility; take and maintain various interim measures at its WWTP until such time as the upgrade is completed and operational in order to mitigate potential nitrate loading at its permitted spray irrigation fields; relocate its water supply wells at the facility to enable MFODI to extract and treat nitrate in groundwater as part of its WWTP operations and to maintain a measure of hydraulic control; and provide options for an alternative water supply to nearby residents.”

Individuals may submit written comments via email to DNRECHearingComments@delaware.gov, or via the United States Postal Service to Lisa Vest, Office of the Secretary, 89 Kings Highway, Dover, DE 19901. Written comments will be accepted until the close of business on Monday, March 2..