MILLSBORO, Del. – The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has ruled that permits from a former Vlasic Pickle plant in Millsboro, Del., cannot be modified to allow for the plant to be converted for poultry processing, according to local news reports. Seaford, Del.-based Allen Harim Foods is planning to convert the former pickle plant into a poultry-processing facility.

The permits held by Vlasic expired in October. The EPA's Office of NPDES Permits (National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System) and Enforcement regional office notified environmental activist groups of its decision Dec. 24.

Some residents in Millsboro protested the plan citing concerns about pollution. The vacant pickle plant left behind high levels of chromium, chloride, nitrates and carcinogens; and 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.
In an emailsent to Maria Payan of Socially Responsible Agriculture Project, the Office of NPDES Permits and Enforcement stated: “… In EPA’sFederal Registernotice for the 1984 amendment to the NPDES permit regulations, the agency stated that “Permits which have ‘expired’ cannot be modified. While expired permits may be continued in effect beyond the permit terms under the Administrative Procedure Act...these permits may only be changed by reissuance.”

The Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental and Control (DNREC), has extended the permits until a decision is made whether to sell the plant to Allen Harim. EPA said it would continue to discuss the issue with DNREC.