Residents of Delaware’s Inland Bays community are crying foul on a nearby Mountaire Farms chicken plant that produces millions of gallons of wastewater a month from slaughtering and processing chickens. The plant has incurred several state wastewater violations over the years for nitrate and fecal coliform releases. According to Delaware officials, the factory released hundreds of gallons of effluent that contained up to 41 times the permitted levels for nitrates and up to 5,500 times the permitted level for fecal coliform, as well as other pollutants.
Contaminants in the community’s drinking water have been traced by the US Environmental Protection Agency and the nonprofit Delaware Center for the Inland Bays to the Mountaire plant’s spraying of wastewater onto nearby farmland. Lawyers for the residents filed a notice stating that the disposal system presents an “imminent and substantial endangerment to health or the environment.” Several scientific studies have found a link between elevated nitrate levels in drinking water and birth defects such as limb deficiencies, cleft palates, and brain damage.