Bay watchdog 'hopeful' about Perdue's facility

By Lynn R. Parks

After meeting with representatives of Perdue, members of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation are expressing optimism about the chicken manure pelletizing plant proposed for a site between Laurel and Blades. But the Delaware chapter of the Sierra Club has yet to embrace the concept.
"We are hopefully optimistic that the plant can be constructed in such a way that it has no negative impact on the environment, and that it will be used as described to export excessive nutrients out of the region," said Don Jackson, Nanticoke project manager with the foundation.
Perdue hopes to build the $10 million recycling plant on a 210-acre parcel of land off alternate US 13 south of Blades. The 100-foot by 630-foot plant would dry and pelletize chicken manure for use as a fertilizer.
Jackson, who attended the Tuesday morning meeting between the Chesapeake Bay Foundation and Perdue, said that the foundation was assured that there will be "absolutely no deposits into Gum Branch," a tributary of the Nanticoke River that runs through the property. The Nanticoke River, in turn, runs into the Chesapeake Bay.
"They assured us that it will be a completely closed-loop system," he said.
In addition, Perdue told the foundation that emissions into the air from the plant will consist largely of steam and heat, Jackson said. All smokestacks will be equipped with scrubbers to remove any particulates.
Jackson said that the foundation, whose primary concern is water quality of the bay, finds the concept of transporting nutrients from Delmarva to the Midwest particularly attractive.
Nutrients from the Midwest often find their way to the peninsula via air currents that pick up air pollution and carry it east, he said, and in the corn that is brought in to feed Delmarva's chickens.

"We are in favor of the concept of getting manure off of Delmarva," he said. "If it is in pellets, fine, as long as we are not exchanging manure pollution for some other type of pollution."
But he stopped short of endorsing the plant. "This is not a stamp of approval," he said.
"But we believe that the plant as presented to us will not have a negative impact. We hope that they can build and operate the plant as they described it."
Debbie Heaton, conservation chairwoman with Delaware chapter of Sierra Club, said that her organization is still in the process of gathering information about the pelletizing process as well as about the plant.
"We have taken no position on it yet," she said. "We are learning about it, so we understand what is intended."
Heaton said the the chapter's research is extending beyond Delmarva. "We are not the only area facing this problem," she said. "We have a lot of chickens, but a lot of other states have a lot of chickens as well as a lot of pigs.
"Pellets are apparently made elsewhere and we will be finding out about them: how they are used and whether they are effective."
Heaton said that her group hopes to meet with representatives of Perdue.
Jackson said that the Chesapeake Bay Foundation wants to continue working with Perdue in designing roads into the plant.
"We want to make sure that routing of the trucks is done in the safest manner possible with the least impact on the local community," he said.
"We also want to work with them on storm water management. With the addition of an impervious surface at the site, we want to make sure that any runoff is handled in such a way that it has no impact on the quality of the Nanticoke."