Citizen groups appeal state's plan for pickle plant

Ask courts to send case back to DNREC for new proposal
Allen Harim has plans to convert this Pinnacle/Vlasic Foods plant in Millsboro to a poultry processing facility. BY RON MACARTHUR
July 21, 2014

Opponents of the proposed Allen Harim Foods poultry plant have filed an appeal to overturn a June state environmental appeals board ruling to uphold the state's brownfield action plan at the former Vlasic pickle plant near Millsboro.

Attorney Ken Kristi of Widener Environmental and Natural Resources Law Clinic filed the appeal July 10 in Delaware Superior Court on behalf of Protecting Our Indian River and Inland Bays Foundation.

According to the appeal, the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control brownfield remediation plan does not comply with the Hazardous Substances Control Act, and state agency conclusions in the final report “are not supported – and in fact are contradicted – by substantial evidence in the record.”

The groups are asking the court to reverse the appeals board approval and send the matter back to DNREC “for development of a lawful, science-based plan.”

The site is included in the state's brownfield program, which offers matching grants to clean up contaminated industrial parcels. The approved DNREC remediation plan includes long-term monitoring of the parcel.

The groups have another appeal pending in court. In September 2013, the county board of adjustment approved a special-use exception for the parcel to allow conversion to a poultry-processing plant. The groups have appealed that ruling to Delaware Superior Court, on grounds the board lacked jurisdiction to approve the zoning request and provided insufficient oversight by approving a list of consultant agencies provided by Allen Harim.

The South-Korea based company applied for the exception in an effort to buy the former 107-acre Vlasic pickle plant. The company plans to invest $100 million to convert the plant to poultry processing, which will employ about 700 people and processing as many as 2 million chickens per week. The pickle plant closed in 2012 after decades of operation.

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