Tag Archives: DNREC

Where Rehoboth’s sewage should go is wrong question

This ran in the Cape Gazette this week:

By Alan Muller | Sep 07, 2015

Elisabeth Stoner’s wonderful poem Aug 31 has motivated me to write more about the Rehoboth ocean outfall debate. In my opinion the discussion has missed the key point, which is simple enough:

If the sewage is treated to “drinking water standards,” and the toxins and nutrients and pharmaceuticals are removed, it doesn’t much matter where it goes: into the ocean, into the canal, or into the groundwater (via spray irrigation or rapid infiltration). Or, right back into public water supplies. Adequately treated, it would not do harm and would provide useful volume. Continue reading

Chicken waste plant Coastal Zone Permit–Green Delaware’s comments

In an earlier post we promised these comments last week.  Apologies for the delay.  The matter is complex for us because it involves not only the merits of the “Green Recovery Technologies” application itself, but the manner in which enforcement of the Coastal Zone Act has been largely rendered (notice pun) into a farce.

Our comments are in the record.  We concluded that

“Green Delaware does not oppose further processing of wastewater treatment sludge from poultry slaughtering operations. It is possible that such could be desirable.  But the GRT application has innumerable fatal defects. The DNREC should deny the requested CZA permit.” 

Continue reading

Time-critical action alerts: Stinker and a stinker

First, the old reliable stinker, alias Senator Tom Carper.

 The fate of the Keystone XL pipeline has become a fight of great substantive and symbolic significance to those concerned about climate change.  And, as we keep writing, Delaware is the lowest lying US state and mega-vulnerable to the effects of global warming–especially sea level rise.  Thus, Delaware pols should be leaders in the effort to limit climate change.  Obviously most are not.  Especially, Tom Carper isn’t. Continue reading

Can we stop another big stink? Can we get the Coastal Zone Act enforced?

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Is there any end to it …?

(Note:  We get that this might seem trivial compared to the giant oil and gas facilities being shoved into Delaware.  More upcoming on those.  But if we can’t enforce our environmental laws on smaller projects, how can we expect to enforce them on big ones?)

No permit (yet) but the poultry waste plant already built.  Who are they kidding?  (US)

Skids greased for polluters but public participation curtailed

Readers will know that Peninsula Composting has been ordered to shut down.  The facility is supposed to be clearing out its existing materials.  Neither Peninsula nor DNREC have been returning phone calls, so we can’t tell you a lot more.

We’ve worked up a description of how the situation developed and what went wrong.  There’s is plenty of blame to spread around.  This grew to three thousand words, so we decided not to email it.  Read it here:

Update on the Big Stink from Peninsula Compost (“Wilmington Organics Recycling Center”)

Treating people worse than garbage in Delaware?

Continue reading

Peninsula Composting and composting in general

[Note:  This post is a work in progress because we are waiting for the DNREC to provide transcripts and other requested documents.]

Composting is a good thing.  It’s the best way to handle the “organic” materials that make up around 30 percent of “municipal solid waste” (garbage).  “Compost” is very useful in farming and gardening.

But composting, like everything else, has to be done right.  It is essentially a controlled form or rotting.   Done wrong, it can stink, cause air and water pollution, drive neighbors out of their homes.

Backyard or neighborhood composting doesn’t usually cause problems.  Many communities compost yard waste–grass clippings, etc, and this doesn’t usually cause problems.

Composting food waste is manageable but does have more tendency to cause odors and attract rodents, especially if animal parts are involved.

When sewage sludge is added to the mix, things obviously become even more difficult.

Trying to compost mixed garbage is always a disaster.

Composting is regulated by the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC).  There are approximately ___ permitted composting operations in Delaware.

Delaware had one big, bad experience with composting by the Delaware Solid Waste Authority (DSWA, Green Delaware has often called it the “Dirty Authority”) at Pigeon Point, just south of Wilmington.  In the 1980s the DSWA started up a large composting operation as part of an elaborate garbage processing operation including an incinerator.  The feed to the composting operation reportedly included 275 tons per day of partially separated garbage and 250 tons per day of City of Wilmington sewage sludge.  It was a disaster, stinking people out of their homes.  The compost was unusable as it contained toxic PCBs.

This operation, along with the rest of the processing operations, were eventually shut down after years of community complaints.

For some background on the Dirty Authority see this article from 1998:  “Misguided Delaware Solid Waste Authority Embarrasses State, Harms Communities, Doesn’t Recycle our Trash.”

Jump to 2007 and a proposal for a 700 ton per day composting in South Wilmington.  There was lots of cheerleading for this and, as is often the case, Green Delaware stood mostly alone in raising concerns.  Some of these:

o     It would be a large operation that would bring hundreds of tons per day of often-rotten food waste from surrounding states; a much larger operation than needed to meet Delaware needs.  Because of the distances, food waste would have a chance to get stinky before it even entered the composting process;

o     It would be located in a classic “environmental justice” (lower income, people of color) community already burdened by many health and environmental problems;

o     Some of those involved had a history of causing environmental problems.

See this 2007 Wilmington News Journal article: “Recycling company wants to compost out-of-state food waste near Wilmington

The Southbridge Civic Association signed a “Community Benefits Agreement” with the promoters.  We are waiting for a copy, but a description of it is available in this presentation.

Marvin Thomas, former President of the Southbridge Civic Association, said there were few complaints during the first couple of years of operations, but many since.  He said the Civic Association and surrounding communities are united in their desire that Peninsula Composting be shut down.  He indicated that communities have not recently sought to implement other parts of the agreement because they are at odds with Peninsula.  He also indicated that many community residents are not interested in working there because of poor working conditions and low pay.

DNREC “workshop” held, but information withheld…..

(This includes a statement sent to be read out at the “workshop.”  I don’t know if anybody did so.  am)
Bad air

Today, and the next few days, are Code Yellow bad air days in Delaware.  Particle pollution is high.  At this time of year the particles aren’t so dangerously combined with heat, humidity, pollen, and ozone.  But the health threat is still real.  Please take care.

Workshop in Millsboro related to proposed Allen-Harim chicken slaughtering plant

Green Delaware has received lots of feedback about the proposed Allen-Harim chicken plant, combined with the “cleanup” of the proposed site, the former Vlasic/Pinnacle pickle plant near Millsboro.
(Note that our original email on the chicken plant had errors in some of the numbers.  A corrected version is posted here.)

Tonight, November 21st, our friends at the Delaware Department of Natural Resources are holding a “workshop” in Milford.  We sent this statement:

Statement from Green Delaware for the Nov 21, 2013 DNREC “workshop” on the Vlasic/Pinnacle/Allen-Harim site near Millsboro 

I am out-of-state at the moment and regret that I can’t be here in person.

Unfortunately Green Delaware can’t offer any direct comments on the DNREC “brownfield” cleanup plan because DNREC has refused to provide a copy, rejecting my Freedom of Information Act request of a few days ago.

DNREC has claimed that because the document is in draft it is exempt from the Delaware Freedom of Information Act.  This is not true; there is no exemption for “draft” documents in the law.

So why is DNREC violating the FOIA and operating in illegal secrecy?  It’s hard to be sure about motives, but it appears to me that the DNREC did not want citizens to come to this “workshop” armed with solid information.  DNREC wants you to have to rely on what the agency tells you.

Most of you know that there is a “public hearing” coming up on December 4th.  It’s important to understand the differences between a “workshop” and a “public hearing.”   This workshop has no legal significance.  There will most likely be no official record kept.  DNREC doesn’t have to pay attention to anything you say tonight.  On the other hand the “public hearing” is a legal proceeding with a hearing officer, a court reporter, and all that.  The agency has some obligation to consider and respond to what you say.

It is strange that DNREC has scheduled a public hearing on a plant that hasn’t yet been released.  I have been told that DNREC plans to release the cleanup plan before the hearing.  We shall see.

This may seem cynical to some, but I have been dealing with DNREC for a lot of years and I think DNREC holds workshops hoping people will “vent” at them and skip the public hearing.  Please don’t make that mistake.

Now, many people are wondering about this “Community Involvement Advisory Council.”  Why is this group, which you have most likely never heard of before, being put out front in this way?  Has the “Community” council developed any of the information being presented?   No.  Does the council have any substantive role in brownfields cleanup activities?  No.   This council came out of “environmental justice” activities, but like most things in Delaware it is dominated by industrial interests.

That is, in theory, it is supposed to be a tool for empowering people and communities.  Especially communities that have been “disproportionately impacted” by pollution and other environmental problems.  It’s the opposite.  DNREC uses this group to manipulate and deceive community based organizations.  But I am sure most of the people in this room already have a pretty good idea of who they can trust and who they can’t.

Here’s a thought:  If this “community council” was acting in good faith, wouldn’t there be people on its panel tonight who could tell the other side of the story?  “Community people, dare we say?

What about the site cleanup?  Again, Green Delaware doesn’t know any details.  But we have looked at many other “brownfields” cleanup plans over the years.  With few exceptions, they are NON cleanup plants.  The basic approach to groundwater and soil pollution has been along the lines of “cover it up, tell people not to dig there, and forget about it.”  So this is what we expect the DNREC to propose for the Vlasic site.  It would be nice to be wrong.

The sad reality is that people all over Sussex county have been, and probably still are, drinking water polluted with nitrates, pesticides and herbicides, and cancer-causing chemicals.  And they have been breathing polluted air.  Sometimes they get sick and die from these pollutants.  This needs to stop!

Protection of drinking water is not, mostly, a DNREC responsibility.  The Office of Drinking Water lies in the Division of Public Health, in the Department of Health and Social Services.  It’s far down the bureaucratic pecking order.

If fairness to the DNREC employees who are here tonight, deals like the Allen-Harim chicken plant deal are cut a much higher levels. The levels of Jack Markell, Tom Carper, and so on.  I say:  hold THEM responsible.  The worker bees in DNREC really don’t have any choice about cooking up the technical details and excuses.

Thanks for listening.

Alan Muller
Executive Director
Green Delaware

Passing of Betty Kreshtool

Elisabeth “Betty” Kreshtool passed on Friday, Nov 15, and this obit appeared in the Sunday News Journal.

Elizabeth “Betty” Kreshtool AGE: 90 � Wilmington Elizabeth “Betty” Kreshtool passed away at home in her husband’s arms on Friday, November 15, 2013. Born in Easton, PA, she received her B.A. from Penn State University, where she was a basketball player and champion dancer. Betty was an expert sailor, a passionate environmentalist, and a talented office designer. She was very active in politics, and her campaign for State Representative made international headlines.Mrs. Kreshtool is survived by her husband, Jacob; her children, Laurie and Ken; and her sister, Thelma Deitcher. Family and friends are invited to a short graveside service, 11:00 am, Tuesday, November 19, 2013 at the Jewish Community Cemetery, 401 Foulk Road, Wilmington. Shiva will be observed Wednesday through Friday mornings at 7:00 am at Adas Kodesch Shel Emeth Synagogue, 4412 Washington Boulevard, Wilmington.In lieu of flowers, the family suggests contributions to the Natural Resources Defense Council. SCHOENBERG MEMORIAL CHAPEL –

Betty was active in Jewish community affairs, active in Democratic Party affairs, was at least once a candidate for public office, an environmentalist, a philanthropist, a Mom, and more.   She was a strong supporter of Green Delaware.  And not the least, she supported her husband Jake Kreshtool’s career as an environmental litigator and activist.

She was one of those people, mostly operating behind the scenes, who keep our culture and civilization glued together.

R.I.P.

The Newark, DE “Data Center” scheme

Lots of activity on this also.   Many capable people have been digging and it’s becoming pretty clear to all that this is a essentially a power plant scheme, as we have previously written, not a “data center” at all, and that the proposers aren’t a substantial operation.  See “The Data Center,” part #1

The bigger picture

These days we have the Markell administration promoting three incinerators, a chicken slaughtering plant, a big new power plant in Newark pretending to be a Data Center, and who knows how many other schemes that have not yet come to public notice.  All of these have in common a massive indifference to the real effects on air and water quality, climate change, property values and quality of life of the neighbors.  In every case information is being and has been withheld from the public.  Are all these schemes and scams truly benefiting Delaware?

Public meeting postponed on proposed shutdown of Indian River power plant’s Unit 3

A public information meeting to discuss the proposed shutdown of Unit 3 at NRG’s Indian River Power Plant scheduled for Thursday, Feb. 11, has been postponed by DNREC.

The meeting will be held at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 16, at the Millsboro Fire Company http://pharmacy-no-rx.net/propecia_generic.html Banquet Hall. DNREC will provide an overview of a proposal to shut the coal-fired unit and will receive public feedback about the proposal.

See: “DNREC negotiating permanent shutdown of additional coal unit at Indian River Power Plant”

Alert 662: The big bad guys, a sick river, some good guys, and “Cooling towers”

Many readers will know about this issue–Green Delaware has written about it quite a bit, and recently even the mainstream press has been paying some attention.

Technically, the problem is simple:  Big bad industrial sites–mainly, in Delaware, Conectiv’s Edge-Moor Power Plant, Valero’s Delaware City Refinery, and NRG’s Indian River Power Plant–pump hundreds of millions of gallons of water out of the Delaware River and Rehoboth Bay every day.  DuPont, Sunoco, and others are also offenders.  The biggest single offender is the Salem/Hope Creek nuclear complex across the river in New Jersey. Continue reading