SEAFORD, Del. – The Delaware Environmental Appeals Board denied a challenge to the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control's (DNREC) approval of Allen Harim Foods' plan to clean up the site of a former Vlasic pickle plant.

Seaford-based Allen Harim plans to purchase the Millsboro, Del., property from Pinnacle Foods Inc., Parsippany, NJ. The company plans to invest $100 million to remodel the facility into a state-of-the-art poultry processing plant that will employ about 700 people.

But some local residents opposed the plan because they say the vacant pickle plant left behind high levels of chromium, chloride, nitrates and carcinogens. Additionally, the state water authority found high concentrations of trichlorethylene (an industrial solvent) in groundwater as a result of a chicken vaccine manufacturing business operating in the town.

The DNREC approved Allen Harim's plans to remediate the site. Local residents challenged DNREC's approval of the remediation plans. But on June 25, the board unanimously denied the appeal.

“Allen Harim is pleased with the reaffirmation by the board that our proposed operations, following the DNREC approved plan and related regulations, will not pose an environmental risk to the surrounding community,” said Steven Evans, CEO. “The board’s unanimous vote further validates what we have maintained all along.

“This is a very positive step, but it is just one of many necessary to complete the purchase of the property,” Evans added. “We appreciate the support of legislators in Sussex County and in state government, as well as the commitment of the more than 200 growers across Delmarva who produce the highest-quality, traditional, antibiotic-free and Halal-blessed chicken. We are squarely focused on continuing to grow our business across the county, the state and the region.”

Allen Harim still faces another legal challenge. A case is pending in the Delaware Superior Court challenging the Sussex County Board of Adjustment's approval of the plant.