FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Maria Payans (SRAP) (717) 826-7286 or Cindy Wilton (POIR) (302) 934-8050
Citizen Group Files Appeal of Permit for Harim Poultry Processing Plant
Legal action taken to oppose Sussex County approval that will allow waste from 2 million chickens to threaten public health, risk water contamination and jeopardize property values
MILLSBORO, DE DECEMBER 3, 2013 Today, the citizen’s action group Protecting Our Indian River filed an appeal with the Sussex County Superior Court to overturn a Sussex County Board of Adjustment ( BOA ) decision approving the Allen Harim Foods, LLC ( Harem ) poultry processing plant in Millsboro, Delaware. The November 5th BOA approval of Harim’s permit application would allow for the new potentially hazardous use of the town’s former Vlasic pickle plant site — a currently contaminated Brownfield’s site. Sussex County’s endorsement of the Harim application came despite sizeable opposition from area residents and the forced reopening of the BOA hearing after the Board’s solicitor enforced the requirement to contact Delaware state agencies to ensure the protection and safety of public health, waterways and nearby property.
Harim, a South Korean poultry processing company, applied for the land use permit in June 2013. The County’s permit approval in November paves the way for controversial conversion of the former seasonal Vlasic pickle plant into an intensive year-round poultry processing plant that would process 2 million birds per week and discharge unprecedented amounts of animal and pharmaceutical waste into the adjacent Indian River.
Sussex County erroneously approved a permit to the detriment of the public health and safety of this community and the environment, said Cindy Wilton, a founding member of Protecting our Indian River. And the plan is for things to get much worse. As part of an ill-conceived jobs initiative by Governor Markell, Harim stated it will add 100 new confinement poultry houses within a fifty mile radius. It’s clear this community is on the brink of being sacrificed in the name of politics and non-existent public health policies.
Over 270 comments in opposition were turned into the Board, including testimony from representatives of the Socially Responsible Agricultural Project (SRAP) and The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Comments by SRAP highlighted BOA’s improper public notice and comment procedures, which included a neglect to notify the public of the record reopening and the availability to offer public responses to state agency comments, as well as allowing only a seven day response period — considered not a “reasonable time period” as Sussex County code requires. Johns Hopkins cited significant gaps in information provided by Harim and state agencies regarding occupational safety plans, water use, amount and type of wastewater discharge, and plans to control airborne bacteria from poultry trucks driving near human populations.
This is beyond shortsighted — it’s irresponsible and dangerous, said SRAP’s Maria Payan. This community is already suffering the long-term effects of contamination from the Vlasic plant, including the cumulative impact of an unsolved cancer cluster and two nearby superfund sites. The social and environmental consequences of allowing this pollution-intensive Harim operation into this sensitive setting are nothing less than disastrous.
Protecting Our Indian River is represented by Richard L. Abbott, Esq. of the Abbott Law Firm in Hockessin, Delaware. The grounds for the appeal are the BOA’s lack of jurisdiction under Delaware state law to issue the permit, the fact that the BOA did not base its decision on substantial evidence in the record showing the development will be protective of public’s health and safety, and that the BOA violated public notice and hearing requirements in issuing the permit to Harim.
About Socially Responsible Agricultural Project (SRAP)
Socially Responsible Agricultural Project provides free, professional assistance to communities working to protect themselves from factory farms and their impact on local communities and populations, and to those who are trying to reclaim agriculture by producing and marketing sustainable agricultural goods. More information can be found at www.sraproject.org.
About Protecting Our Indian River
Protecting Our Indian River was formed by group of concerned residents to oppose the proposed siting of the Allen Harim Chicken Processing Plant along the Indian River in Millsboro, Delaware. We are concerned about the safety and protection of our local and regional community health, air, water, wetlands and property value in the face of the unprecedented waste, pollution, odors and traffic the will be generated by the Harim facility. For more information about Protecting Our Indian River, please go to www.protectingourindianriver.com.