A court settlement between Mountaire Farms and residents of Millsboro, Delaware, over drinking water contamination was finalized.
A court settlement between Mountaire Farms and residents of Millsboro, Delaware, over drinking water contamination was finalized Apr. 12.
According to Delaware Public Media, a Delaware Superior Court judge approved the $65 million payout from Mountaire to residents near the chicken processor’s wastewater treatment facility in Millsboro.
The class action lawsuit was filed on behalf of more than 600 residents in 2017, alleging that the facility contaminated the area’s drinking water with nitrates. The lawsuit also alleges that this drinking water contamination caused health issues and devalued nearby property.
Mountaire also reached a settlement with a separate group of residents in Feb. 2019 related to drinking water contamination as well, according to Delaware Public Media.
As part of the settlement, $140 million was approved in mandatory upgrades to Mountaire’s wastewater system and the permits for the upgrades were approved by The Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC).
The most recent settlement began with resident Gary Cuppels who was hospitalized with gastrointestinal issues and came home to find free bottled water from Mountaire on his porch with instructions to not drink his tap water, reported Delaware Public Media.
According to the lawyer for the plaintiffs, Philip Federico, the upgrades will bring the wastewater Mountaire sprays onto nearby fields down to well below the federal 10 milligrams per liter limit on nitrogen, reported Delaware Public Media. Testing of 200 area drinking wells shortly after the failure at the facility found that nitrogen levels were above that limit.
In a statement, Mountaire denies causing damage to the plaintiffs and is moving ahead with its new wastewater treatment facility.
According to lawyers for the plaintiffs, they are expecting between 3,000 and 4,000 claims on the lawsuit, reported Delaware Public Media.