A class-action lawsuit has been filed against Mountaire Farms over the company’s wastewater and sludge contamination issues.
The lawsuit was filed by the law firm Baird Mandalas Brockstedt LLC (BMB) and announced at a press conference at the town hall is Millsboro, Delaware, reported the Middletown Transcript. Millsboro is the same community that has been the center of Mountaire’s environmental issues, in which Mountaire in 2017 spray irrigated reclaimed wastewater that exceeded the allowable levels of nitrates, fecal coliform and chlorine. That water, according to state officials, contaminated area water wells.
The lawsuit follows a consent decree reached between Mountaire Farms and the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC). That consent decree addressed wastewater-related permit violations at Mountaire’s poultry processing operations in Millsboro. As part of the decree, which was submitted for approval in Delaware Superior Court, requires Mountaire to pay a civil penalty of $600,000 and reimburse DNREC $25,000 for expenses incurred during its investigation, but that penalty could be reduced ot $420,000 under the decree if Mountaire offered an alternative water supply to nearby residents.
BMB had investigated Mountaire’s environmental practices, and based its lawsuit on the findings of that investigation. BMB cooperated with another firm, Schochor, Federico & Staton, in the lawsuit, which represents about 700 area residents, reported Delmarva Now.
Mountaire Farms has previously stated that it has been working hard to correct the problems. The company said employees who were responsible for monitoring the wastewater system allowed solids to build up in the wastewater and allowed water to be released without proper levels of oxygen in the system. Those workers have since been dismissed from the company.
Mountaire in November 2017 also stated that it was committed to a two-phase plan to improve the situation. One phase involved increasing oxygen levels, increasing biosolid removals and increasing its water analysis at the Millsboro facility. The second phase involves a complete upgrade of the wastewater treatment system in Millsboro.