On Nov. 15, 2016, the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) announced it found dozens of wastewater-related violations at Allen Harim’s poultry processing plant in Harbeson. According to Delaware Online, more than 1,000 people worked at the plant to process millions of chickens grown by farmers in Maryland and Delaware.
On Oct. 31, 2018, Delaware Online reported that the plant will pay the state at least $150,000 in fines, stop spraying wastewater on fields near Dagsboro and being an environmental mitigation project in Sussex County to resolve violations found at its chicken processing plant and hatchery in southern Delaware.
Regulators said the company dumped polluted wastewater and stormwater containing high levels of nutrients, fecal bacteria, ammonia and other contaminants into Beaverdam Creek on many occasions between 2012 and 2016, according to Delaware Online.
The DNREC announced on Oct. 31 that the company has agreed to pay $300,000 and the $7,888 in expenses. The expenses are for permits violations in Harbeson and other violations found at the company’s hatchery in Dagsboro.
According to Delaware Online, the food processor will only have to pay half of the penalty amount if an environmental improvement project in the Broadkill River watershed is complete. This project is expected to be a partnership with the Nature Conservancy.
“This allowance by DNREC will not reduce the amount paid by Allen Harim, but will redirect part of the penalty into water quality improvements in the impacted watershed," the conservancy said in a press release.
The permit violations in Harbeson were caused by “equipment failures, process overloads and various other circumstances,” according to the secretary’s order outlining the new settlement agreement.
The DNREC announced it would levy a $241,000 fine against the company earlier this year, according to Delaware Online. This would include another $7,888 in in expenses to the department for the investigation of the violations in Harbeson.
The company called the fine “unfair under the circumstances.” The food processor had spent millions to upgrade its onsite wastewater treatment facility and was supported by more than $11 million in low-interest loans issued by the state, according to Delaware Online.