The citizens group Protecting Our Indian River (POIR) has announced that it will appeal the decision of Delaware Superior Court Judge Richard Stokes denying their request to overturn a decision by the Sussex County Board of Adjustment that allows the Allen Harim chicken processing plant to move forward near Millsboro.
“We’re in this for the long haul,” said Jay Meyer, a Possum Point resident who is a member of POIR. “We’re definitely opposed to any discharge into the Indian River.”
In 2013, Allen Harim announced its $100 million plan to redevelop the site of the former Vlasic pickle plant — a brownfields site — for poultry processing.
“It’s a battle that we’ve been fighting since 2013, and we’re still in the fight,” Meyer said, adding that the citizens have valid concerns about the health in their area.
“We swim in the river, we crab out of the river and eat out of the river. We don’t think this is the location that plant should be,” he said. “We’re not against the poultry farmers or anything like that. We’re just concerned with the health in our immediate area.”
The notice of appeal comes on the heels of the release of a Health Impact Assessment of the Millsboro area conducted by the University of Maryland School of Public Health. Last month, POIR held a public meeting to review the study and discuss what it means for the area.
“We’ve done a lot of research on this ourselves, and all the research we’ve done kind of added up to very similar things they said in the Rapid Health Impact Assessment.”
The study stated that residents in the area of interest are overburdened with pollution from multiple sources, that the projected amount of poultry to be processed at the Harim Millsboro plant will likely result in increased levels of air and water pollution, and that the placement of the plant will increase air and soil pollution from diesel exhaust, lead to traffic congestion, and place excessive wear and tear on the roads.
Meyer said the Delaware Department of Health was invited to the meeting but declined to attend.
“You would think that your State would be interested in the health and welfare of its people, but they’re not.”
As attorneys’ fees are mounting, Meyer said the group is seeking donations from the public to help fund their cause. The group is hoping to raise $7,000 worth of donations, and, by Coastal Point’s Wednesday news deadline, had raised more than $2,700.