Mountaire Farms has reported to Delaware officials that it accidentally discharged between 750,000 and 1 million gallons of partially treated wastewater.
According to a statement from Delaware’s Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC), the accident occurred at the company’s poultry processing plant in Milsboro, Delaware, and was discovered around 5 a.m. on February 13, and appears to have been caused by a mechanical failure with its wastewater component. Mountaire further informed DNREC that the spill was contained onsite, and there was no discharge into the nearby Swan Creek.
DNREC stated that it has directed Mountaire Farms to take all appropriate steps to mitigate this release and minimize any adverse impacts to the environment. Mountaire’s cleanup efforts are under way. DNREC will continue to investigate this incident while monitoring the company’s cleanup.
Earlier accidental discharge
This is the second time in recent history that an equipment failure has caused an accidental discharge at Mountaire’s Millsboro facility.
On October 12, 2018, an accidental discharge apparently occurred after heavy rainfall caused an electrical malfunction at the facility, which resulted in the release of the wastewater into Swan Lake.
Michael Globetti, spokesman for DNREC, said at the time that some of the wastewater mixed with storm water, which ran into Swan Creek. No more than 5,000 gallons of wastewater went into the stream, Globetti added.
Past environmental concerns
Prior those two discharges, Mountaire’s facility in Millsboro had already seen plenty of attention from DNREC. The two entities in July entered into a consent decree that addresses wastewater-related permit violations in Millsboro.
Mountaire, in 2017, had been advised by DNREC that it had violated the conditions of its permits to treat and spary irrigate reclaimed wastewater onto nearby agricultural farmland. DNREC notified the company that it had exceeded allowable levels of nitrates, fecal coliform and chlorine. The company had since stated that it was working to correct the situation.
The decree, which has been 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, according to a press release issued at the time from DNREC.