The law firm of Baird Mandalas Brockstedt, LLC (BMB) in association with the Maryland firm of Schochor, Federico & Staton, P.A. (SFS), filed a class-action lawsuit against Mountaire Farms alleging the “disposal of billions of gallons of highly contaminated wastewater and liquefied sludge has seeped into the groundwater throughout the area…” and contaminated area drinking water wells that have caused some residents health problems because of chronic exposure to elevated levels of nitrates and other contaminants.
“The complaint seeks to force Mountaire to stop its wrongful discharge, establish a clean drinking water source, overhaul and update Mountaire’s wastewater treatment plant to eliminate the discharge of highly contaminated wastewater and liquefied sludge, remediate the soils, and compensate affected residents for the decrease in property values and the health effects caused by the contamination,” the law firm said in a statement.
Mountaire Farms said the company expects to be served a copy of the lawsuit soon but could not comment in any detail until then.
“As we have stated many times previously, elevated levels of nitrates in Sussex County is a very common widespread environmental condition that has existed for many decades, way before the arrival of Mountaire and certainly did not occur just in the past 17 years,” the company said.
BMB said consultants and experts hired by the to investigate Mountaire Farms reached “…certain conclusions…” The probe included the review of “…thousands of pages of documents on Mountaire’s conduct and permits from DNREC [Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control], the EPA, the Delaware Center for the Inland Bays, the Delaware Geological Survey, and other sources; conducting well testing of over a hundred Millsboro residents; communicating with hundreds of Millsboro residents to monitor for health effects and other damages; and interviewing Millsboro residents and former Mountaire employees about Mountaire’s wastewater practices.”
Plaintiffs’ lawyers announced the lawsuit during a press conference on June 13.
“…we fully anticipate that the complaint will assert claims based on thinly researched and hastily prepared reports by paid ‘experts’ that will collapse under careful scrutiny,” Mountaire Farms countered.
“Today’s press conference was a publicity stunt by a group of opportunistic lawyers hoping to cash in on a problem that has already been solved through a Consent Decree with the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC),” the company said. “The fact that there are two out of state law firms, partnering with two local law firms, who are attempting to block the remedies in this Consent Decree, demonstrates the true nature of their motives.”