Poultry producer will stop Dagsboro spray irrigation

Sussex County poultry producer Allen Harim has entered into a conciliation order to settle years of past environmental violations.

Allen Harim will pay a $300,000 administrative penalty to the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control for violations at its Harbeson processing plant and its Dagsboro hatchery and $7,888 for investigative expenses.

The company can redirect up to $150,000 of the penalty to environmental improvement to eliminate a source of nutrient runoff within the Broadkill River Watershed. Allen Harim has 60 days to formally submit a project for approval. According to the order, they expect to put the money toward Nature Conservancy efforts to improve water quality.

The remaining $150,000 and the reimbursement must be paid within 30 days.

The agreement stipulates that the Dagsboro plant must end treated wastewater spray irrigation and connect to the county sewer system. The conciliation order addresses nitrogen loading in excess of limits in both 2016 and 2017. Most egregiously, in June 2016, groundwater monitoring data in Dagsboro showed nitrogen levels almost three times the DNREC permit limit.

The Harbeson processing plant exceeded DNREC permit limits in 2016 and 2017. Discharges of treated wastewater containing more-than-permitted amounts of ammonia, phosphorus, nitrogen, Enterococcus and solids entered Beaver Dam Creek on numerous occasions. A $241,000 penalty for those violations assessed in March was appealed by the company.

Allen Harim President and CEO Joe Moran called the penalty “unfair under the circumstances,” citing an $8 million wastewater treatment upgrade at Harbeson and future plans to pump wastewater to a planned Artesian Wastewater Management treatment plant in Milton, to eliminate dumping it in Beaver Dam Creek.

The company has yet to issue a public statement on the new agreement and did not respond to a request for comment.

Earlier this year, the Sussex County Board of Adjustment approved Allen Harim’s plans to transform a former Millsboro pickle plant into a deboning and packaging facility. If all goes according to plan, the treated wastewater will be spray irrigated on surrounding land.