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Mountaire Farms’ Millsboro, Delaware, Plant Finishes Phase 2 of Wastewater Upgrades

Jan. 26, 2024
Investment of $120 million to upgrade wastewater system mandated by settlement of lawsuits claiming poultry plant contaminated groundwater more than six years ago.

According to a local news report, the Delaware Dept. of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) officials announced that the second phase of upgrades to the wastewater treatment facilities at Mountaire Farms’ Millsboro, Del., poultry processing plant have been completed.

Additionally, the plant has been operating in compliance with construction and operating permits, and within the total nitrogen effluent limit of less than 10mg per liter. The plant’s effluent also has been meeting its total nitrogen concentration of 3mg per liter or less, a DNREC spokesman told the news outlet.

The upgrades are the result of a 2021 settlement of state and federal class-action lawsuits against Mountaire, which was mandated to spend $120 million to upgrade the wastewater plant. In 2017, Mountaire’s wastewater treatment plant failed, causing a malfunction that led to the spray irrigation system applying wastewater containing nitrate onto fields at levels over allowable limits, the lawsuit claimed. Residents nearby began experiencing health issues related to contaminated groundwater and air pollution due to the system failure.

The settlement cost Mountaire $65 million in payments to class members and $20 million for operations and maintenance in addition to the aforementioned $120 million for the upgrades.

Phase 1 of the project focused on pre-treatement of wastewater to reduce nitrogen and increase efficiency, while Phase 2 centered on physical upgrades to the facility, the news outlet said.

About the Author

Andy Hanacek | Senior Editor

Andy Hanacek has covered meat, poultry, bakery and snack foods as a B2B editor for nearly 20 years, and has toured hundreds of processing plants and food companies, sharing stories of innovation and technological advancement throughout the food supply chain. In 2018, he won a Folio:Eddie Award for his unique "From the Editor's Desk" video blogs, and he has brought home additional awards from Folio and ASBPE over the years. In addition, Hanacek led the Meat Industry Hall of Fame for several years and was vice president of communications for We R Food Safety, a food safety software and consulting company.