Mountaire Farms has withdrawn its application to expand operations at its poultry processing facility in Millsboro.
Mountaire spokesman Michael Tirrell said in an email Oct. 10 the application had been withdrawn, stating the plant is “experiencing an upset condition, and we need to concentrate our efforts on getting the wastewater plant operating in a normal condition.”
He clarified there is a buildup of solids from the wastewater treatment process that must be removed from the site. After the problem is addressed, he said, the company will submit another application to expand the plant.
Mountaire filed a Coastal Zone Act permit application in late May, seeking approval of a 5,300-square-foot addition to its processing plant, which would expand the picking room and allow the plant to process up to 350,000 more chickens each week.
The proposed $14 million expansion was expected to create more than 170 new jobs, Tirrell said in a previous interview.
The application stated the expansion would increase wastewater output and air pollution, but the increased pollution would be offset by previous upgrades at the plant.
During a public hearing Aug. 31, several nearby residents voiced disdain toward the company and argued the state should deny Mountaire's request for an expansion.
“There were a lot of concerns within the permit,” said Maria Payan of the Socially Responsible Agriculture Project, who was alerted by a DNREC employee Oct. 9 that the permit had been withdrawn. “The biggest thing was their ability right now to operate their permit in a way that's protective of human health and the water. Which they're obviously not on top of too well.”