We support of the Bioenergy Devco anaerobic digestion facility proposed for Sussex County because we believe this facility will substantially reduce the environmental impact of poultry production in our region.
Poultry processing on Delmarva produces large amounts of waste, including “DAF” or dissolved air flotation waste that is extremely high in nutrients. This DAF waste is now stored in large open-air tanks and liberally spread on farm fields, where its application is governed mostly by the demand for waste disposal, not by the management of its nutrients. The transport and storage of DAF waste involves risk of contamination of aquifers and surface water throughout our watershed, as well as truly appalling odors. Delaware prohibits spreading DAF waste on farms, so its disposal is even more problematic here.
The anaerobic digestion of DAF waste at this facility will represent a major step forward in reducing these serious impacts by eliminating odors and pathogens and producing an easily-transportable fertilizer. It also will contribute renewable natural gas to the system recently approved to transport fracked natural gas to the Eastern Shore.
The proposal includes an onsite wastewater treatment plant and the collection and use of stormwater for the small amount of water required for the digestion process, so it will neither deplete the aquifer nor pollute groundwater. The new equipment will be added to the existing footprint of a composting facility, and the entire process will be enclosed with negative pressure to minimize odor and other nuisances. There will be no risk of a gas explosion at the site because the methane produced in the process will be captured and treated by Chesapeake Utilities elsewhere, then be transported to local customers via the Eastern Shore Natural Gas pipeline.
Some have raised environmental justice objections based on demographic data, which should of course be seriously examined. However, we have found no evidence that this location has a population that differs materially from elsewhere in the area. Importantly, the proposed operation will significantly improve water and air quality throughout the watershed, compared to the status quo.
We urge Sussex County and Delaware officials to support this project for the benefit of our shared environment.
Ron MacArthur of the Cape Gazette wrote a good article of the proposal. Click on the picture above to visit their page.