Residents question Dogfish waste in Indian River

May 13, 2014

A public meeting was held by DNREC March 27 in Millsboro as result of local residents' requests opposing the renewal of a transport permit that allows Dogfish Head Brewery to continue to dump its brewery waste into the abandoned Pinnacle/Vlasic Pickle Plant’s wastewater treatment plant which in turn discharges its waste output directly into the Indian River.

It was clearly concluded at the meeting there was absolutely no benefit to the Indian River if this permit was renewed and, in fact, it was clearly understood that any additional waste from Dogfish or anyone else that was discharged from the abandoned pickle plant further polluted the already impaired Indian River.

DNREC attempted to justify the renewal of this transport permit by stating that Pinnacle still had an open discharge permit that allowed them to continue to dump waste into the Indian River even though they (Pinnacle) abandoned the plant two years ago. DNREC was then informed at the public meeting that a formal complaint had been filed by a local resident with the head of the EPA in Washington in February, stating that the Pinnacle discharge permit that DNREC was using to justify the Dogfish permit never met its discharge, TMDL, and nutrient offset requirements over the last 14 years. The March EPA response to the formal complaint neither refuted the allegations made in the complaint nor did they defend DNREC’s mishandling of the Pinnacle permit since 1998.

In addition, another issue that was not brought up at the meeting was that the transport of waste from the Dogfish Brewery (a non-point source) to be dumped at the Pinnacle site (a point source directly on the Indian River) is exactly contrary to DNREC’s own Pollution Control Strategy. DNREC’s PCS calls for systematically eliminating all point source discharge directly into the Inland Bays or discharging and/or offsetting the discharge at a non-point source site, not transporting waste/pollution from some inland site and dumping it into the Indian River through some wastewater treatment plant.

In summary, it was determined by the residents at the meeting that Dogfish Brewery was further polluting the Indian River by dumping their waste into the Pinnacle wastewater treatment plant. This action was being approved by DNREC based on the fact that Pinnacle left behind an expired discharge permit that had never truly met its nitrogen and phosphorus discharge/offset requirements since 1998. Most residents attending the public meeting felt that DNREC failed miserably in its attempt to justify the Dogfish transport permit being renewed, the additional pollutants being discharged into the Indian River and DNREC’s questionable and continued loyalty to Pinnacle, a large food conglomerate that abandoned the plant years ago taking their 400 jobs with them as well as leaving the site contaminated for others to clean-up.

As of April 21 a decision on the Dogfish renewal application has not yet been rendered by DNREC.

The handling of the Pinnacle discharge permit and the Dogfish Brewery transport permit are more examples of DNREC hurting the environment and violating their own rules and regulations. I have said this before and I will say it again. It is disturbing when the enemies of the environment turn out to be the agencies that were created to protect it.

Barry Goldman


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