Appeal Filed Against DNREC-Approved Remediation Plan for Allen Harim Facility


tidal creek, inland bays, indian river, indian river bay,vlasic plant, pinnacle, allen harim
Typical inland bay tidal creek at low tide

Friday January 17  the organizations Protecting our Indian River and Inland Bays Foundation filed an appeal with the Delaware Environmental Appeals Board against the Allen Harim Facility or the old Vlasic Pickle plant location.  This has been an on going fight for a community to have the state regulate this area properly.  Basically the property has been polluted immensely and it needs to be cleaned up before it should even be allowed to be used again.  Personally I don’t think we need any more industry on our inland bays.  This is a small water system and it can not handle a large amount of waste water dumped for dilution.  The facility though it is closed is still operating its waste facility.  Apparently allowing it to be used will keep it “alive” so to speak, this way the property is more attractive to a potential buyer.  Since it is already a very polluted area, I can’t imagine it is a good idea to continue to use the facility.  I am also curious how a company stops using a facility and yet is not responsible for cleaning up the mess they leave behind.  Vlasic did not go out of business, I still see their products in our stores.  Why have they not been charged with cleaning up their mess?  Why is it being left to the Delaware tax payer to have to deal with this situation?  Why is the facility still being used and is that money being set aside to clean up the mess that is already there?  The people from the Protecting our Indian River and the Inland Bays Foundations have been asking these questions for a long time and now this appeal will hopefully find the answers they are seeking.  Keep a close eye on this situation, I have been attending many meetings over the past 3 months.  There are a variety of groups all concerned with our waterways in one form or another.  It is amazing what you can learn when you attend many of these meetings.  One thing I have learned, all of these different groups need to start meeting with one another and sharing information.  One group is looking for answers to questions that another group already has and if these folks would collaborate more they could achieve better results.  That is just my opinion, the pollution however is a fact.

Appeal Filed Against DNREC-Approved Remediation Plan for Allen Harim Facility
Local groups charge State-determined remedial order violates the statutory, regulatory requirements ….

The appeal was filed by Ken Kristl, Esq. and the Widener Environmental and Natural Resources Law Clinic. The Widener Clinic provides representation and legal assistance to public interest organizations and individuals on environmental matters in Delaware and other Mid-Atlantic states.  “We are seeking to reverse the order,” said Cindy Wilton, a founding member of Protecting our Indian River. “The remediation plan that DNREC proposed misses the mark on so many levels that they simply need to go back to the drawing board and make solid, fair, realistic plans for reviving that site.”  According to the appeal, the remedial plan determined by the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) was flawed in several key elements, including:

• The failure to characterize adequately the hazardous substances on or emanating from the site. This includes the failures to sample in areas of known or suspected areas of contamination, consider all data about the site, and determine potential and actual offsite impacts.
• The failure to evaluate properly the risks created by the hazardous substances on or emanating from the site. This includes the failure to consider known or suspected risks at the site, develop sufficient data to conduct an adequate risk assessment, have adequate data to support the risk assessment actually conducted, and determine risks from potential and actual offsite impacts.
• The failure to impose a remedy that reduces and/or eliminates the impacts and risks of the hazardous substances on or emanating from the site.  

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     Numerous experts submitted testimony at the December 17, 2013 remediation plan hearing concerning the current Brownfield site that is set to be converted into a poultry processing plant for 104 million birds per year.  Expert testimony by Socially Responsible Agricultural Project (SRAP) engineer and factory farm authority Kathy Martin highlighted flaws in the on-site testing, particularly from the waste water treatment plant. SRAP’s Genell Pridgen also provided written comment on arsenic and cobalt findings in the site investigation. Inland Bays Foundation’s science coordinator John Austin, a 33-year veteran of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, presented testimony denouncing the DNREC’s proposed monitoring plan as “inadequate.” There was no testing offsite to private wells, which has been reiterated by the community and various experts as inadequate to ensure protection of water wells and public health.   “This was a missed opportunity by DNREC to do things the right way,” said SRAP’s Maria Payan. “Community health and environmental stability were back-burnered in favor of a quick fix that was no fix at all. This process should start again, and this time the citizens of Sussex County need to be respected and protected by its government agencies”

fish advisory, do not eat the fish sign, delaware river, delaware city
I never want to see these signs on our inland waterways or beaches.  These are in Battery Park on the Delaware River in Old New Castle.

The inland bays are already stressed by many environmental factors.  We do not need to add to that with more dumping to dilute waste water.  The back bay area near Millsboro, known as the narrows, is not a very fast moving water system.  I honestly don’t see how water could even be diluted back there.  At a very low tide there is just a small channel winding through very large mud flats.  I always hear we can not have the bays dredged because it is not feasible or designated a commercial area.  If that is the case, then why is commercial and industrial waste water allowed to be dumped in these areas.  That does not make any sense to me what so ever.  The surrounding mud flats are filing in with silt more and more every year.  Marsh grasses and the surrounding foliage can not keep up with filtering these pollutants.  Our inland bays need to be protected and watched at all times, we have a very delicate ecosystem out there.  I would hate to see signs along the water ways one day that tell us to not eat the fish, just like the signs up north on the Delaware River.

Fish On!!

Rich King

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