Mountaire Farms is seeking approval from the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) to build two temporary anaerobic lagoons at its plant in Millsboro, Delaware.

The matter was discussed on a January 23 hearing hosted by DNREC. According to a report from WBOC, the lagoons that Mountaire hopes to build would be used as a de-watering facility for sludge until it can be transported to a landfill.

DNREC earlier cited Mountaire with wastewater treatment violations in 2017 after elevated nitrate levels were found, eventually affecting private water wells in homes near the plant. DNREC Environmental Scientist Brian Churchill said the sludge was a factor, and in order to remove it from the current lagoons it needs to be dried and transported to a landfill. 

At least one neighbor in attendance at the hearing voiced skepticism about the effectiveness of such lagoons.

Mountaire has owned the facility in Millsboro since purchasing it from Townsends in 2000. The company has said some of the wastewater issues related the the facility were already in place before it became a part of Mountaire’s operations.


However, Mountaire has made attempts to be a better neighbor and to make the water quality situation better. It has provided bottled water and offered to dig deeper water wells for its neighbors with high nitrate levels in its wells.

The company has also revealed preliminary plans two-phase project that could help alleviate Mountaire’s water quality issues.

The first phase of the plan is to increase the oxygen levels, increase the biosolid removals and increase its water analysis at the Millsboro facility. That phase, according to a company spokesman, was expected to take about six months to complete.

The second phase, involves a complete upgrade of the wastewater treatment system at the Millsboro facility. The company’s investment in the two phases, combined, is expected to be between $30 and $35 million.