DNREC must toughen its protections

September 19, 2017

Allen Harim is partnering with Artesian to create a large wastewater treatment facility between its poultry operation in Harbeson and Milton. The facility will include large lagoons and spray irrigation.

While this approach will remove effluent that for decades polluted Beaverdam Creek, it has neighbors rightfully concerned about potential negative impact.

At the same time, Mountaire - another large poultry operation with facilities along Route 24 east of Millsboro - wants to expand its complex to process more chickens. That expansion will require expansion of its wastewater operations and spray irrigation of effluent.

Neighbors there are also concerned that odor and water pollution will only increase if permits are granted.

These concerns indicate distrust of Delaware's Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control to strictly protect residents and important natural resources from problems that can arise from industrial-level poultry processing.

The poultry industry is critical to Sussex County's and Delaware's agricultural economy. The industry provides thousands of jobs, and a healthy agricultural economy helps ensure landowners can continue to farm profitably and not feel pressured to sell their land for development. The open space provided by successful farming operations contributes mightily to our quality of life and that of our wildlife resources.

But the jobs can not and do not have to come at the expense of clean water, clean land and clean air. In reviewing these current applications, DNREC must insist on clear evidence that these companies can and will invest as required to protect and enhance the natural resources they want to utilize.

They must also show how those protections and enhancements will be sustained and what funding will be set aside to address problems that might arise. DNREC has to get tougher in these areas and show how it's doing this.

In the meantime, Allen Harim and Mountaire should be thinking about how they, as responsible corporate neighbors, can contribute further to the quality of life in Sussex County in terms of open space, trails, playing fields and other public amenities.


  • Editorials are considered by the editorial board and written by Laura Ritter, news editor, and Dennis Forney, publisher, with occasional contributions from other board members: Trish Vernon, editor; Dave Frederick, sports editor emeritus; Jen Ellingsworth, associate editor; Nick Roth, sports editor; and Chris Rausch, associate publisher.