Washington, D.C. – After a nudge by Food & Water Watch, the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (“Department” or “DNREC”) finally took strong administrative action against Mountaire Farms, Inc. to resolve the Clean Water Act violations occurring at the company’s poultry processing plant in Selbyville, Delaware.
“We’re pleased that state regulators have acted swiftly to force Mountaire Farms, Inc. into compliance with the Clean Water Act,” said Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food & Water Watch. “On the eve of the anniversary of this important piece of legislation next month, it shows that enforcing our national environmental laws reduces pollution in our waterways. It’s also a triumph of our legal efforts to force companies to comply with the law.”
For at least five years Mountaire Farms has had significant and continuing discharge violations for the categories of Biochemical Oxygen Demand, Oil & Grease, Ammonia Nitrogen, Total Suspended Solids and Enterococci. These pollutants can cause great harm to aquatic life, as well as threaten public health.
On August 6, Food & Water Watch, represented by both the Mid-Atlantic Environmental Law Center (“MAELC”) and the Delaware Law School Environmental and Natural Resources Law Clinic, responded to these violations by sending a 60-Day Notice of Intent to Sue letter pursuant to the Clean Water Act for the facility’s violations of its state issued NPDES permit, which set limits on how much pollution could be discharged from the facility.
Less than two months later, on September 21, 2015, DNREC entered into a Consent Decree with Mountaire Farms, which requires the company to take action to eliminate the discharge of pollutants from the facility within 19 months, with a strict schedule of compliance. Mountaire Farms will also pay a civil penalty of $48,000 for its past violations. The Department also filed a Complaint against the company in the Superior Court for Sussex County and the Consent Decree has been approved by the Court.
Food & Water Watch is pleased with the Department’s actions and believes that with this Consent Decree, no further legal action will be needed at this time. However, the organization will continue monitoring the facility to ensure compliance with the Consent Decree.
“As we often see, it takes a few citizens to draw public attention to the bad polluters and a threat to sue before the government will take action. We are happy to see that DNREC is willing to stand up for the health and safety of Delaware’s waterways,” says Hannah Leone, a fellow with the MAELC.
Darcey Rakestraw, 202-683-2467; [email protected]
Hannah Leone, Esq., Mid-Atlantic Environmental Law Center, 302-477-2072; [email protected]