Selbyville fears pollution from Mountaire stormwater proposal

After attracting millions of dollars in government funding to clean up their water, the Town of Selbyville has qualms about letting Mountaire dig a new stormwater system between the Town’s two primary water supplies.

The poultry processing company was recently required to manage all stormwater on their own property. So they proposed an infiltration basin, which would capture runoff from a Hoosier Street parking lot.

That is supposed to be different from a pond, which would collect water and sit. An infiltration basin is specifically designed to infiltrate into the ground.

But that doesn’t sit well with the Selbyville Town Council, which is currently building a second water treatment plant to remove gasoline additive methyl tert-butyl ether (MTBE) from groundwater.

“I know there’s concerns about the material that’s in the water there infiltrating into your well water,” said Greg Esham, a Mountaire engineer, at the Aug. 1 town council meeting.

“You didn’t give me a solution. You just me what you were planning,” Tingle said. “I think you should run it through your sewer system back there and then dispose of it. It has to be cleaned up. We can’t have it going through our aquifers.”

But a major rain event would have Mountaire dramatically exceeding volume limits.

“I cannot answer your questions,” Esham said. “As I’ve stated, I can only tell you what this is supposed to do. It’s designed to keep any water from going in Sandy Branch.”

Despite overflow protection, a 10-year rain event could still make water overflow into the town waterway.

But, while a major rainstorm might overflow the system, it would also water down the pollution.

“We are told massive dilution is supposed to take care of that,” Tirrell said.

Mountaire would hire someone to clean to debris that mucks up the bottom of the basin.

“I think we are just gun-shy because we’ve had so many different contaminants in our wells in the last 10 years or so, and now we are building a multimillion-dollar plant,” said Councilman Rick Duncan Sr. “I don’t want people calling, saying they got manure smell in their water.”

There was some discussion of installing test wells to monitor water quality.

It’s not Mountaire’s intent to create pollution, Esham said.

“We just don’t want your filtration ponds to infiltrate our water system, is what it amounts to,” Tingle said. “If it hits our wells… I mean, what do we got, another Flint, Mich., on our hands?”

”Our concern is the unknown,” Mayor Clifton Murray said.

Neither Mountaire nor the Delaware Department of Natural Resources can with 100 percent certainty say where water will go, only stating how the system is supposed to work.

Councilman Frank Smith III asked who would take responsibility if there was an issue, as neither the Town nor Mountaire can afford a water-supply emergency.

”It’s not if, but when,” Tingle said.

“We didn’t volunteer for this” either, Mike Tirrell, a Mounatire VP told the council on Sept. 6.

He proposed a meeting of the engineers from Mountaire, the Town of Selbyville and DNREC to discuss the project in detail.

Afterward, Tirrell would not speculate on what happens if the Town doesn’t give permission for the basin. He estimated it’s been about a year since Mountaire got their marching orders from the federal government. He said that the EPA is watching, but DNREC has approved the project.

The Mountaire reps explained other cleaning processes, such as cleaning by blowing debris off with air, then sweeping it up, to avoid washing with water.

Also, the company street-sweeps the live-haul parking lot and Hoosier Street twice daily, said Mountaire’s Jay Griffith. That is regular cleaning, which would continue even with the pond.

Currently, the cooling shed at the plant has a catch basin, so stormwater can pick up solids and be pumped into a tote that is hauled to the Mountaire wastewater treatment center, which later pumps to Selbyville’s wastewater plant.

In other Selbyville news:

• The town council officially welcomed Stacey Long, who began Aug. 15 as the new town administrator.

• Selbyville’s financial audit earned a “clean” or highest opinion from Leslie Michalik of PKS & Co. She found no material weaknesses in their internal controls, and compliance with laws, “so you run a pretty tight ship here.”

She concluded that the Town had a good fiscal year with the one that ended Jan. 31, 2016, and was in good financial position, although she recommended the Town create a formal policy for an asset depreciation schedule.

• The council (with Jay Murray absent) unanimously approved KCI consultants to apply for an asset management program grant for water and sewer. That would help Selbyville create a maintenance schedule for their massive infrastructure and give them bonus points for consideration for government grants and loan opportunities.

• The council approved a $16,345 bid from Homeworks in Ocean City, Md., to install new flooring at town hall.

The next regular Selbyville Town Council meeting is Monday, Oct. 3, at 7 p.m.