By: Wolf von Baumgart, Staff Writer
In response to Allen Harim’s appeal of a earlier condition of approval of Allen Harim, LLC’s application for approval a poultry deboning operation at the former Vlasic Pickle plant near Millsboro, the Sussex County Board of Adjustment voted to remove its previous condition that all properly permitted on-site wastewater facilities be in place before the plant was allowed to operate.
Instead, it now permits plant operation subject to legally permitted trucking of wastewater to off-site treatment, much to the consternation of local residents,last Monday night.
The BOA also reiterated its standing general position that it does not have the power or inclination to make environmental or public health decisions in its deliberations. In an August 20 appeal to the BOA, an attorney for the multimillion-dollar South Korean owned corporation claimed that requiring on-site waster treatment facilities to be operation before permitting plant operation would impose an undue and unintended economic hardship on the firm.
District 5 BOA member Ellen M. Magee had previously excused herself for an apparent conflict of interest, leaving the four of the five-member panel to decide
District 4 Board member J. Bruce Mears, made a complexly legally worded and apparently previously prepared motion to “totally remove” the original conditions of use that all DNREC permits and on-site wastewater treatment facilities be in place before the plant was allowed to operate. The initial motion was not seconded and declared “dead” by the chairman, to the applause of neighborhood residents opposed to the deboning plant and the increased truck traffic that it would engender.
BOA Chairman Dale A. Callaway stated that he does not understand why area residents opposed to the plant do not want wastewater trucked off the premises. [Audio available]
The underlying environmental issue, however, is more complex. Even if the wastewater was eventually treated on-site to advanced near drinking water (quarternary) levels, the added volume of effluent applied to a spray irrigation system would dissolve and disperse existing soil contaminants (such as hexavalent chromium) and create a positive groundwater flow (hydrological gradient) that would further contaminate nearby residential water wells.
In the end, the Board passed a motion to amend its previous condition and enable the plant to operate subject to legally permitted off-site trucking and disposal of wastewater. Permitting will be subject to a DNREC review and public hearing process.
However, the controversy surrounding the plant and its brownfield site continues.