The Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) issued two permits this week to Mountaire Farms to construct and operate an upgraded wastewater treatment facility at its Millsboro poultry plant.

The upgraded facility will allow the poultry producer to address the regulatory compliance issues and wastewater violations that led to the September 2017 wastewater treatment plant failure. The permits will also allow Mountaire to move forward with pollution reduction improvements at the plant.

Mountaire is required to construct and operate the upgraded wastewater treatment facility as part of a May 2020 agreement with the Department. In addition, the Department has requested that the U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware enter the agreement as a consent decree. The District Court’s decision is pending. Together, the permits authorize Mountaire to construct significant upgrades to its wastewater treatment facility and to put wastewater treatment improvements into operation when construction is complete.


The On-Site Wastewater Treatment and Disposal Construction permit issued by DNREC authorizes Mountaire to make significant upgrades to the existing wastewater treatment facility at the Millsboro poultry processing complex. Among other improvements, the wastewater treatment facility upgrades will provide enhanced wastewater treatment capabilities resulting in total nitrogen concentrations of 10 mg/L or less in treated effluent, which aligns with state and federal drinking water standards for the protection of public health. This highly treated effluent will then be spray irrigated onto permitted agricultural fields where additional nutrient reductions will occur through crop uptake.

The second permit issued by DNREC to Mountaire was a modification and renewal of Mountaire’s Operations Permit for on-site wastewater treatment and disposal, which authorizes spray irrigation of Mountaire’s treated wastewater on 893 acres of permitted agricultural fields in Sussex County. The Operations Permit modification provides for more stringent effluent limitations and enhanced monitoring requirements and also authorizes Mountaire to place facility upgrades into operation once construction is complete.

Both permits were issued in accordance with 7 Del. Admin. C. §7101, Delaware Regulations Governing the Design, Installation and Operation of On-Site Wastewater Treatment and Disposal Systems and 7 Del.C. Chapter 60.