Public Comment Period Exteneded For An Allen Harim Permit
This is a long read and a lot of information but it is important to understand that this permit should not be allowed and that Allen Harim needs to comply with existing permits. I don’t know any better way then to just cut and paste the permits and some of the public comments. I do know that this can not be allowed to flow into the Beaver Dam creek area any longer for the health and well being of the environment and people’s quality of life in the surrounding neighborhoods. You decide for your self and please send in your public comments. You have until Friday 11/20/2015 to do so (tomorrow). I am sorry this is such short notice. This link is a public comment sent in by Greg Rosner
There was a public meeting Wednesday night in Millsboro about the proposed increase of production at the Allen Harim facility in Harbeson, DE. There was also public comment for the permits being applied for to build a new waste water facility on the property. Public Hearing for Allen Harim Foods, LLC, NPDES Permit No. DE0000299. This project will take 42 months to complete. In other words they will have 42 months to comply with required levels for effluent. That is over 3 years. Concerned citizens pointed out that presently the effluent from the Harbeson production facility is not in compliance with the allowed amounts of contaminants … aluminum, phosphate, and TSS (total suspended solids) just to name a few. The numbers are literally off the charts. “By doubling production and not having to comply with those limits for another 42 months is absurd” Maria Payan from Protecting Our Indian River “Especially when the effluent amounts are already not in compliance.”
Below is a letter sent out by DNREC announcing the public comment period at this meeting. I Asked to have Wednesday night’s public comment period deadline extended to this Friday. You have till tomorrow, Friday 11/20 ,to send in your concerns about the increase of production and effluent into the Beaver Dam creek that flows into the Broadkill River and eventually the Delaware Bay. Please send them to Anthony Hummel’s email address linked below. I also pointed out that the environment is very important for our fishery and that we need to protect it. I have no problem with a business trying to make money and create jobs, but not at the cost of the environment that many of us make our living from, enjoy for sport, and ultimately maintains our quality of life. I also pointed out that many groups are working on protecting forage fish by protecting the very environment they come from. Our waterways in Delaware are in bad shape and we need them cleaned up to sustain more life. If the forage fish protection or regulation is passed then there might be stircter regulations on effluent levels that needs to be considered.
The Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control will conduct a public hearing to receive comments regarding the Wastewater Facilities Construction Permit Application and the reissuance of the NPDES Permit for the referenced facility on Wednesday, November 18, 2015. The hearing will begin at 6:00 p.m. at the Indian River Senior Center, 214 Irons Avenue, Millsboro, Delaware. A copy of the published legal notice is enclosed for your information.
If you have any questions or comments, please call me at (302)739-9946, e-mail me at Anthony.Hummel@State.DE.US, or write to me at the above address.
Anthony E. Hummel, PE
Environmental Engineer IV
Surface Water Discharges Section
State of Delaware
Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control
Division of Water Resources
89 Kings Highway
Dover, Delaware 19901
DNREC – Division of Water, Surface Water Discharges Section
The Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control, Division of Water, (Department) hereby gives notice that a public hearing will be held to receive public comments on the following permit applications submitted by Allen Harim Foods, LLC, located on DE Route 5 (Sussex County Road 22), Harbeson, Sussex County, Delaware for its wastewater treatment facility:
- Wastewater Facilities Construction Permit Application, determined to be complete on August 24, 2015, to construct Phase 1 improvements to and an expansion of its Wastewater Treatment Facility, including two (2) new Raw Wastewater Pumps; one (1) new Flow Equalization Basin; two (2) new Recycle Pressurization Pumps; three (3) new HP motors; two (2) new Effluent Pumps; one (1) new jet aeration header, jet recirculation pump and air supply blower; one (1) new Final Clarifier; a new ultraviolet (UV) final effluent disinfection system with a new concrete tank, UV banks and controls; and modifications to the existing Return Activated Sludge (RAS)/Waste Activated Sludge (WAS) Pump Station.
- NPDES Permit No. DE 0000299 (State Number WPCC 3131F/76) to discharge treated process water, domestic waste water, and storm water from its facility located at 18752 Harbeson Road in Harbeson, Sussex County, Delaware to Beaverdam Creek which discharges to the Broadkill River. This facility is a poultry processing plant which involves the transportation of live birds from the poultry farms, slaughtering, defeathering, eviscerating, chilling, packing, and the shipping of poultry meat to the distributors. The industrial and domestic wastewater from the poultry plant flows into their sanitary treatment plant (STP). The STP consists of primary screening, dissolved air flotation, biological nutrient removal (anoxic basins followed by aerobic basins), secondary clarifiers, chlorination, and dechlorination. Process related storm water is collected in sumps with pumping of first flush to the STP. Sludge treatment consists of aerobic digestion, dewatering by filter press and land application.
The NPDES permit application was determined to be administratively and technically complete and the facility was notified of such via letters dated November 8, 2010, and February 7, 2011, respectively. The public notice permit implemented an increased flow limit of 2 MGD, effluent limitations and monitoring requirements for TN, TP, BOD5, and ammonia in compliance with the TMDL for the Broadkill River, and water quality based effluent limitations for aluminum.
The Department previously published public notices of these applications and received public comments during the public comment periods that have closed.
The Department determines that the public interest warrants consolidating the applications for decision and holding a public hearing on the applications and the draft NPDES permit prepared pursuant to Section 6.12 of Department Regulation7201, 7 DE Admin Code 7201, to develop the record with the benefit of the Department’s public hearing process.
The public hearing on the applications and the draft permit will begin at 6:00 p.m. on November 18, 2015, at the Indian River Senior Center, 214 Irons Avenue, Millsboro, Delaware.
On the basis of staff review and application of lawful standards and regulations, the Department proposes to issue the permits for the facility above, subject to certain effluent limitations and conditions. These proposals are tentative pending development of a record, including the public hearing, and a final decision by the Secretary of the Department.
Persons wishing to comment on the applications and draft permit may present written statements through the close of the public comment period, which is re-opened and extended until the conclusion of the public hearing on November 18, 2015. Persons may also present comment orally or in written form at the hearing. Persons who want to speak at the public hearing are encouraged to register in advance no later than November 16 and this registration will be used to determine the order of speakers at the public hearing. Registration and any written comments should be send either by mail or preferably email to: Robert.Haynes@state.de.us
Robert P. Haynes, Esq
Senior Hearing Officer, Office of the Secretary
Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control
P.O. Box 1401, 89 Kings Highway
Dover, Delaware 19901
The applications, draft fact sheet, and draft permit are available for inspection at http://www.dnrec.delaware.gov/wr/information/pages/AllenHarim.aspx or copies may be obtained by contacting:
Division of Water
Surface Water Discharges Section
89 Kings Highway
Dover, Delaware 19901
Citizen Request for Public Hearing – NPDES
Regarding Allen-Harim Harbeson Facility NPDES permit modification and renewal
Public Comment and Public Hearing Request deadline September 25, 2015
Submitted to DNREC Division of Water, Surface Water Discharges Section
Neighborhood landowners, concerned citizens, and several environmental citizen
organizations including Protecting Our Indian River (POIR) request a Public Hearing for
the proposed draft NPDES permit for Allen-Harim Harbeson Facility allowing for
expansion and upgrade of the wastewater treatment system and the schedule of
compliance with the Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) for Beaverdam Creek (EPA ID
DE000299; State Permit No. WPCC 3131F/76).
An initial technical review of the existing NPDES permit (effective date May 1, 2006,
expiration date of April 30, 2011 and Minor Modification effective date of September 6,
2011), the 2010 NPDES Permit Application, the 2015 proposed draft NPDES permit, the
Final Design Summary of Wastewater Treatment System Upgrade and Expansion
(Phase I) dated August 21, 2015, the 2015 engineering drawings for the upgrade, and
other documents in the public file was made by Kathy J. Martin, PE (OK#18254) at the
request of the citizens.
Citizen concerns with respect to the proposed NPDES permit include but are not limited
to the following:
1. Phase 1 and Phase 2 permit actions. The 2015 proposed draft NPDES permit on
page 8 of 24 includes a schedule of compliance with total nitrogen and aluminum limits
that allows up to 42 months (3.5 years) to construct plant upgrades and come into
compliance with final effluent limitations and the TMDL for Beaverdam Creek.
– What permit process will be used to address Phase II activities? Will there be
another Construction Permit application as was done with Phase I?
– When will the public see the engineering designs and specifications for Phase
II activities? How will the public comment and opportunity for hearing on
Phase II activities affect the Schedule of Compliance?
– Why would it take over 3 years to build the upgrades? Does that mean the
facility can exceed effluent limitations with the excuse that the upgrades have
not been completed?
– How will DNREC prevent increasing the throughput of the facility until after all
of the upgrades have been successfully constructed?
2. Public Notice for this facility. The public notice for this construction permit for
Phase I was published on or around September 2, 2015. The public comment deadline
for the 2015 proposed draft NPDES permit is September 25, 2015. The draft NPDES
renewal permit appears to incorporate the Phase I and Phase II activities. The public
has not had access to Phase II construction permit application materials or due process.
Request for Public Hearing – Allen-Harim Harbeson NPDES permit mod and renewal Page 2
– Why did DNREC time the two public notices such that the public is asked to
comment on a permit that would incorporate Phase I and Phase II activities
but only Phase I construction engineering design is available for review?
– In response to public request for a copy of the current permit renewal
application, DNREC sent a copy of the 2010 NPDES permit renewal
application, the 2015 draft NPDES permit, and 2015 fact sheet. What we did
not receive was a copy of the 2015 NPDES permit renewal application that
includes Phase I and Phase II activities.
– After email and telephone discussion with DNREC, it becomes clear that the
2015 draft permit is based on a 2010 permit renewal application submitted by
Allen Family Foods Inc (pre-2011 ownership). That 2010 permit application
does not include the Phase I and Phase II activities proposed by Allen-Harim
Foods LLC (post-2011 ownership) in 2015 – basically five years later.
– How did DNREC draft this permit without access to Phase II construction
drawings and engineering specifications?
– Why has the NPDES permit that expired April 30, 2011 not been renewed
until now – over four years later?
– Will there be a separate public notice for the construction permit for Phase II?
3. Increased employee domestic sewage. The expansion of the facility equates to
over twice the current slaughter capacity with the addition of a second shift and what
appears to be increased throughput for each of the two process shifts. The design
summary does not state how many new employees will be used to fill the second shift
and increase the first shift to accommodate the larger throughput. Obviously, the
doubling of the employees will double the amount of sanitary/domestic wastewater.
– There are conflicting statements in the Design Summary and the existing
NPDES permit (2006) with respect to whether or not the sanitary/domestic
wastewater is mixed with the slaughterhouse wastewater.
– The existing permit (2006) states “Discharge 001 consists of treated poultry
process wastewater and treated stormwater”. The other three discharge
outfalls are for storm water runoff. No mention is made of where the
sanitary/domestic wastewater is discharged. The process schematic in the
2006 permit does not show the treatment system for sanitary/domestic
wastewater nor its disposition.
– Page 2 of the 2015 Design Summary states the domestic wastewater from
the package plant will be “disinfected and discharged to mix with the treated
process wastewater prior to discharge through the 001 outfall.”
– The proposed draft permit has the same description for Discharge 001 as the
existing NPDES permit and does not mention sanitary/domestic wastewater
generated by the employees Discharge 001. However, the new schematic in
the draft permit does show the package treatment plant for sanitary/domestic
– How does DNREC determine if the existing package plant will be able to treat
the additional sanitary/domestic wastewater flow from additional employees
after the expansion and addition of the second shift?
4. Condition of the existing waste treatment system. The 2010 NPDES permit
renewal application does not include discussion of the deplorable condition of the
existing wastewater treatment system. The proposed permit is silent with respect to
determining whether or not the shallow groundwater has been contaminated even
though the surrounding groundwater wells are completed to depths less than 100 feet
and many as shallow as 65 feet.
– How will DNREC determine whether or not the existing wastewater treatment
system has contaminated shallow groundwater?
– Is the plastic liner in the west lagoon intact after it has been floating for
several years (see Figures 4, 5, and 6)?
– In the Phase I construction permit application, there are engineering drawings
that refer to the west lagoon as “abandoned anaerobic lagoon”. Why is this
lagoon allowed to remain without proper closure?
– Under what conditions would the facility have a peak flow rate of 4.0 million
gallons per day as shown on page 4 of the Design Summary?
– Where are the laboratory results used to generate the screened raw
wastewater pollutant concentrations and loading in Table 1 of the Summary?
– Why does the proposed permit include an aerial photo of the facility that
appears to represent the facility back in the early 1990’s and does not reflect
its current configuration and all of the current wastewater treatment systems?
6. Problems with effluent discharge concentrations with existing system. The
existing wastewater treatment system has had problems for many years both before the
facility was purchased by Harim and after.
– How will the Phase I changes to the wastewater treatment system prevent the
effluent violations that were documented in the past few years?
– How can DNREC insure that the Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) for
Beaverdam Creek will be met before the end of the permit term?
– Where does 2010 permit application discuss viable means to prevent the
discharge of pathogens into Beaverdam Creek?
Letters from Michael Sause, Wastewater Manager for Allen-Harim, regarding discharge
concentration exceedance at various Outfalls included error with respect to permitted
effluent limitations as follows:
– June 2013 the stormwater discharge from Outfall 003 contained Total
Suspended Solids (TSS) of 674 mg/l and Fecal Enterococcus of 1,732,870
col/100 mls. The rationale for the high values was that the stormwater was
not diverted to the treatment plant. What was not discussed was why the
fecal concentration was so high from only 20% of the stormwater flow from
“the truck parking and live holding shed area”.
o The effluent limitation for Outfall 003 in the permit at the time was 30.0
mg/l daily maximum for TSS, so the discharge concentration was over
22 times larger than allowed by the permit.
o The effluent limitation for Outfall 003 in the permit at the time was 185
col/100 ml for Enterococcus, so the discharge concentration was over
9,366 times larger than allowed by the permit.
– October 2012 the treated wastewater discharge from Outfall 001 contained
18.9 lbs/day total phosphorus (monthly average). The rationale for the high
value was a “plug in the aluminum chloride feed line” that was then fixed.
o The effluent limitation for Outfall 001 in the permit at the time lists a
total phosphorus limit of 3 lbs/day daily maximum, not a monthly
o The discharge was over 6 times the permitted concentration.
– September 2012 the treated wastewater discharge from Outfall 001
contained up to 44.38 lbs/day daily maximum. The rationale for the high
values was “in house laboratory testing on grab samples indicated slightly
elevated Phosphorus results but within compliance limits.” The letter referred
to a daily maximum of 23 lbs/day for phosphorus, however that is incorrect.
o The permit at the time had a daily maximum of 3.0 lbs/day. The value
of 23 lbs/day is for BOD5 and Total Suspended Solids.
– August 2012 the stormwater discharge from Outfall 003 contained 474.0 mg/l
Total Suspended Solids. The rationale for the high value was the pump had
o The permit at the time had a daily maximum of 23.0 mg/l TSS.
o The discharge was 20 times the permitted concentration.
7. Other concerns citizens have with the proposed NPDES permit include: adverse
impacts to surface water that flows past several residential neighborhoods and church
properties; shallow groundwater used as private and public water supply in numerous
wells close to the facility; and adverse impacts that a catastrophic upset could cause on
downstream users of surface water and the State Wildlife Management Area
The following citizens request a Public Hearing on the Allen-Harim Harbeson draft
NPDES permit modification and renewal to express these and other concerns to
DNREC and to learn how the proposed NPDES permit will protect human health and
James W Bailey
Representing Protecting Our Indian River ( POIR)
Thank you for the opportunity to comment on this.
The Delaware Water Pollution Control Revolving Fund (WPCRF) in 2015, for the first time ever, gave a loan to Allen Harim, a private company. The loan is for two different projects related directly to this NPDES permit. The 15 year loan is at 2% interest and is over 11 million dollars. Over 8 million is for a wastewater expansion at the Harbeson Harim processing plant and a Green Project Reserve loan of over 3 million for a water reuse system at this same facility. The funding source is through the EPA with a 20% match from Delaware.
The Assurances Chapter of the WPCRF fund states that Delaware will meet environmental review requirements by complying with section 14, paragraph G of the Operating Agreement between the State of Delaware and the EPA, and Section V of the Regulations Governing the Administration of the WPCRF.
Section V of the Regulations Governing the Administration of the WPCRF states that:
“before making any loan from the Delaware Water Pollution Control Revolving Fund, the Department shall specify, among other things…procedures for completing an environmental review of projects pursuant to paragraph (12)d. of this section.”
In addition, Section V states that the:
“Secretary shall conduct an environmental review of projects otherwise qualifying under this subsection which shall be sufficiently consistent with the provisions for environmental review established under 40 CFR, Part 6, and the Secretary’s environmental review standards and procedures established in Title 7. “
40 CFR, Part 6 deals with procedures for implementing the National Environmental Policy Act (or NEPA). A NEPA analysis should include an environmental assessment of the project, and possibly a full environmental impact statement. Therefore it is our understanding that a NEPA environmental review or assessment should be conducted for these projects.
I commend DNREC on placing the documents on their website for these two permits that the hearing is focusing on tonight, but I did not see any documents relating to any environmental reviews or assessments done in accordance with NEPA, as believed to be required by the WPCR program and EPA’s Clean Water Act regulations. Has a NEPA environmental assessment been done? If so, when was it done and will DNREC make documents related to it available the public? If not, when will DNREC perform the required review?
In June of 2013 on this current permit after Allen Harim took over, there was a discharge where the TSS were 22 times the permit allowance. Fecal Enterococcus was 9,366 times larger than permit allowance. In October 2012, again under Allen Harim, phosphorous was 6 times larger than daily maximum allowance. In Sept 2012 discharge was 44.38 lbs. when the permit allowance was 3 lbs./day.
In August of 2012, TSS (Total Suspended Solids) were 474 mg/l, 20 times the permit allowance.
This facility is in disrepair and has abandoned lagoons, which have never had proper closure.
How will this permit protect surface water? What about the private wells?
In going through a prior FOIA request related to this facility, I was distressed by many of the emails relating to its permit renewal. Some of the emails relate to reissuance of this permit that should have happened in 2011 when the permit was to expire, but only a name change was completed from the former Allen’s Family Foods, which claimed bankruptcy, to Allen Harim.
I am entering the emails and an excel spreadsheet created by DNREC into the record tonight. I am also requesting EPA to look further into some of these concerns before signing off on this NPDES permit.
These emails relate to the rundown current condition of this processing plant, problems with current permit and how to draft reissuance of this permit.
From the emails:
In 2006 DNREC imposed standard minimum requirements for this stormwater, referring to Outfalls 2 and 3. “They shall be free from floating solids, sludge deposits, debris, oil and scum. There are no sampling requirements.”
According to these emails, Outfalls 2 and 3 have problems during heavy rain events. These outfalls get most of the stormwater runoff from the live hold area, which can be extremely high in BOD (Biochemical Oxygen Demand) and nutrients. “As for expanding operations at the chicken processing, the WWTP is barely able to keep up w/what they were getting. When processing increased their “Bird Count”. The WWTP did struggle.” The email goes on to talk about some needed upgrades and states that “I do have some serious concerns on some of these issues going forward.”
In April 2013, again the emails go into details about how difficult/complicated reissuance of this NPDES permit would be. The email states “Upshot, the Broadkill TMDL TN (Total Nitrogen) requirement will be very tough…but the permit TMDL contents are probably already dictated. “Put in the TMDL requirements and propose a 5-year compliance schedule to meet those requirements. “The Broadkill TMDL cuts allowable load discharges…to 1/3 of the loads currently allowed in the permits.”
There was an excel spreadsheet in the email that was created for Allen Harim TN, TP and Enterococcus versus TMDL requirements. As you can clearly see, Allen Harim is not able to meet these requirements at current production levels. How will they meet them when this NPDES permit is more than doubling production levels, especially when the construction upgrades will not be completed until 3 ½ years after this NPDES permit is issued? Will they be able to evade the permit levels for 3 ½ yrs.? Does DNREC support the issuance of permits for a 5 yr period and propose a 5 yr compliance schedule, essentially making the permit limits unenforceable?
The Beaverdam Creek is already on the impaired waters 303D list.
Page 8 of this permit states: “no later than 42 months after the effective date of this permit, the permittee must achieve compliance with the final effluent limitations and monitoring requirements for TN at Outfall 001, as specified in Part 1 B2 of this permit.”
The same minimum standards remain in the stormwater outfalls, requiring no sampling. This is not acceptable.
Good environmental policy is always good economic policy. The state’s waters now are 88% unswimmable and 93% don’t support fishing or aquatic life. There is a reason for the embarrassing water quality in this state and what is described above is not how we achieve restoring it. No amount of money will ever clean it up if we continue to allow major industrial polluters to continue “business, as usual.”
We cannot continue to be shortsighted and allow our children to pay the bill with poor health and huge environmental cleanup costs. DNREC has a new secretary and I believe this is a renewed opportunity for the Department to do the right thing. The right thing would be to deny the permit at this stage and not allow an increase in production at this operation until a proper environmental assessment is complete and the wastewater processing plant construction is complete.
Also included with these comments are the excel spreadsheets, internal emails, and prior EPA inspection reports showing the conditions at this facility and addressing the lack of records for Outfalls 2 and 3. These documents are available at the following links:
Maria Payan, Consultant
Socially Responsible Agricultural Project
104 West Mill Pond Dr
Selbyville, Delaware 19975
|Month||TP TMDL||002_TP_AvgQ||TN TMDL||002_TN_AvgQ||002_Entero_TMDL||002_Entero_AvgQ||002_Entero_AvgC||002_Flow_AvgQ||002_Entero_MaxC|