Mountaire Corp., the poultry producer that is headquartered in Little Rock but has most of its operations on the East Coast, last month settled an environmental lawsuit in Delaware for $65 million and agreed to other improvements in its process.
“While Mountaire does not believe that it caused any damage to any of the plaintiffs, it chose to settle the case in order to achieve a final resolution and to allow construction of a new wastewater treatment plant to proceed,” the company said in a written statement. “As part of the agreement, Mountaire has agreed to create a fund to be used for payments to those in the Millsboro vicinity claiming damages as a result of Mountaire’s wastewater treatment practices. The settlement resolves all outstanding class action claims for injuries, damages, or nuisance.”
The Delaware law firm of Baird Mandalas Brockstedt represented more than 800 residents of Millsboro, the town where Mountaire has operated a chicken processing plant since 2000. Their lawsuit, filed in 2018, alleged that Mountaire contaminated the local groundwater and air by spraying billions of gallons of contaminated wastewater and liquefied sludge on lands near residences.
The law firm characterized the $65 million settlement with the plaintiffs as part of “a record-breaking $205 million resolution” including $120 million for plant upgrades and $20 million for ongoing maintenance.
“We are moving ahead with building our new state-of-the-art wastewater treatment plant, which is advancing quickly,” Mountaire President Phillip Plylar said in the company’s statement. “We’re ready to put this chapter behind us and forge a new relationship with our neighbors moving forward.”
Mountaire said the Delaware Department of Natural Resources & Environmental Control had issued construction and operation permits in January allowing it to begin construction of a new wastewater treatment plant.