Transcript of hearing on the Markell administration’s proposed (non) cleanup of the former Vlasic/Pinnacle pickle packing plant in Millsboro, DE

On December 17, 2013, a public hearing was held in Millsboro.

Here’s the official transcript of the hearing.

Delaware was once known for the high quality of its environmental public hearings.   It’s really sad to see what a joke they have become.

People opposed to the present DNREC plan have put a lot of talent and energy into their work.  They show irrefutably that the Markell administration proposal is not protective of human health or the enviroment.   They show that the DNREC (and, the USEPA, which is supposed to supervise the work of the DNREC) has neglected its responsibilities at this site for decades.  Lots of good work on display here, but obviously not respected or appreciated by Hearing Officer Bob Haynes, who just seemed to want people to shut up as soon as possible.

Yet, it does not seem to me that the citizens covered their bases legally.  For instance, although they put  much in-depth information into the hearing record, there is no request for the record to be kept open (ie, extension of public comment period) so this information can be digested/commented on.  Similarly, my reading of the transcript does not necessarily show a clear alternative proposal from the community.  So it seems to me that the citizens had adequate technical resources but could have benefited from some legal/procedural guidance.

For some background see DNREC “workshop” held, but information withheld

The only reasonably good mainstream media story I have seen on this hearing is in the Cape Gazette for Dec. 20, 2013.  (But you can’t read this without an subscription).  Ron MacArthur is an old-timer in Delaware journalism.

Opinion:  It could be said that in this whole business we are seeing the “Delaware Way” (back door dealmaking and disregard for the public) at it’s worst.  The technical incompetence, the lack of professionalism and integrity, the disregard for public health, on display is extreme.  At the same time, blaming the worker bees in the technical bureaucracy is beside the point.  If they refused to play their assigned roles, Markell and Omara would just replace them with more obedient types.  The USEPA should withdraw the delegation of these programs to the State of Delaware and take them over directly.

I wrote this in 2009:

 

Alert 646: Gov. Jack Markell nominates CA economic development staffer [to head environmental regulation in Delaware]

It will be interesting to see where this goes.  Green Delaware will have more to say about it.

Alan Muller

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