DOVER, DEL. – On Jan. 11, the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) Secretary issued Secretary’s Order No. 2021-W-0003 approving a construction permit, and a modified and renewed operating permit, for the Mountaire Farms poultry processing complex in Millsboro, Del.

The first State of Delaware Construction Permit gives Mountaire the ability to significantly upgrade the wastewater treatment facility at the Millsboro poultry processing plant. The upgrade will provide enhanced wastewater effluent treatment capabilities to a target of total nitrogen concentration of 10 mg/L or less.

The wastewater treatment system project will include improving the activated sludge biological nitrogen removal (BNR) treatment system components, as well as a new tertiary sand filtration system for final effluent polishing and a new stormwater first flush/off-spec lagoon. Mountaire will also install a new screw press sludge dewatering system to increase waste activated sludge handling capacity. The plant will use the existing spray storage lagoon for final effluent storage prior to disposal in the existing spray irrigation fields. A new lagoon will be built to expand final effluent storage volume.

By way of the second permit, Mountaire Farms will renew their State of Delaware Spray Irrigation Operations Permit for its wastewater treatment facility to receive and treat poultry processing wastewater, stormwater, and sanitary waste. Once the company completes the construction upgrades, the treatment facility will discharge treated wastewater effluent with a total nitrogen concentration of 10 mg/L or less. The effluent will be spray irrigated onto approximately 893.63 acres.

The required upgrades and consequent permits to carry them out come as a direct result of 2017 DNREC citations 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 finalized an agreement to formalize ongoing and required corrective actions based on a consent decree proposed in June 2018.