Selbyville officials: Mountaire wouldn’t dig test well

Selbyville residents recently asked if water is a concern around the town’s Mountaire poultry processing plant. After all, the company’s Millsboro plant’s wastewater treatment irrigation system malfunctioned, spraying untreated nitrates, fecal coliform and other contaminants on local crop fields.

There’s no water safety concern in Selbyville, officials say, but the Selbyville Town Council has another bone to pick with Mountaire.

The poultry company is currently putting the finishing touches on an infiltration basin between Hosier Street and Clendaniel Avenue. It will collect stormwater from several parking areas, including Mountaire’s live-holding shed, where tractor trailers park, full of live chickens waiting to be taken into the processing plant.

The stormwater management project is required by the State of Delaware. Roughly a half-acre wide, the infiltration basin is dug about 4 feet deep. The water is supposed to drain naturally into the ground, which is only a few feet from the top of groundwater and about 120 feet from the aquifer.

Town council members have been very wary, fearing for a system failure or major rain event in which undesirable elements in the water might not filter out properly, but instead flood nearby local waterways.

However, Selbyville had little power in the actual decision-making process, because their only role was in granting Mountaire permits to dig a pipe under Hoosier Street.

But after town officials repeatedly requested at least that a test well be dug to help allay their concerns, Mountaire still did not include one in the plans.

“Mountaire refused to install a test well,” Councilman Richard Duncan Sr. said.

Mountaire representatives did not respond to Coastal Point’s requests for comment regarding the test well, or lack thereof.

“It still stinks. … It’s been years now, dealing with this,” Duncan said, complaining about Mountaire’s new odor-treatment system, which he said has not improved things.