DOVER, Del. – The Dept. of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) cited Mountaire Farms of Delaware in a Notice of Violation (NOV) on Nov. 2, 2017, for violating spray irrigation and land application permit violations. DNREC took action against Mountaire in a complaint filed in Delaware District Court in June of 2018. Superior Court stayed the complaint pending resolution of a parallel action in Federal Court. Mountaire and DNREC have finalized an agreement to formalize ongoing and required corrective actions based on the consent decree proposed in June 2018.
The agreement requires Mountaire to do three things: mitigate damage to the environment through short-term and long-term corrective measures; offer nearby residents options for an alternative water supply, meaning an option for a whole-house filtration system in addition to the public water supply and deeper well provisions (environmentally-beneficial offset); and pay an administrative civil penalty of $600,000 for violations of its spray and land application permits, and to reimburse DNREC $25,000 for expenses incurred during the Department’s investigation.
DNREC reduced Mountaire’s administrative civil penalty by 30 percent to $420,000 in consideration of the environmentally-beneficial offset.
The agreement includes more specificity on tracking and reporting of Mountaire’s mitigation efforts, clarifying mitigation goals, including adding a whole-house filtration option as an alternative water supply maintaining the pump and treat system as a permanent facility upgrade. The agreement became effective when it was executed on Friday, Dec. 13, but DNREC will request the agreement be entered by the Federal Court as a consent decree, and that, once entered, the Court will have immediate jurisdiction to oversee and enforce the agreement.
Mountaire and DNREC also entered into a conciliatory agreement to address unresolved issues at the processor’s Selbyville and Millsboro facilities unrelated to the Nov. 17 violations. Issues addressed via the conciliatory agreement include unauthorized discharges of pollutants from live-hold areas at the Selbyville and Millsboro facilities; an unauthorized release of partially treated wastewater effluent to ground surface at the Millsboro facility due to an equipment weld failure; and temporary sludge storage lagoon issues that include synthetic liner concerns and elevated ammonia levels noted in monitoring wells surrounding the temporary sludge storage lagoon at the Millsboro facility.
As a condition of the conciliatory agreement, Mountaire is required to pay an administrative penalty in the amount of $230,000, as well as take corrective actions and mitigation measures to prevent future violations. Mountaire is able to offset up to $115,000 of the assessed administrative penalty by performing a wetlands restoration and/or enhancement project on the Indian River or on Swan Creek with Department approval. Both agreements referenced above can be found on the DNREC website at dnrec.alpha.delaware.gov/secretarys-orders/enforcement/.