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Manure is not Maryland’s only chicken waste problem

The Sun’s editorial on poultry manure (“It’s time to clean up state’s poultry manure problem,” Nov 20) hits close to home but doesn’t go far enough when addressing this problem. Litter is not the only form of chicken waste, Dissolved Air Flotation (DAF) a liquified form of the wastewater treatment process of poultry processing, unspecified animal rendering and restaurant sludge is being stored and spread on the Eastern Shore.

The Maryland Department of Agriculture has authorized the use of DAF, but its regulation is murky. And what exactly is the phosphorus content of DAF? The users are able to take samples and submit them for testing, which is not unlike allowing a drug user to collect their own urine sample.

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A group of citizens in Wicomico County is working to stop the storage of 3 million gallons of DAF in an open-air tank less than a quarter mile from homes. Current Maryland law prohibits the application of DAF directly to the fields between Dec. 16 and the end of February which necessitates its storage. In past instances when DAF is present, residents have experienced hordes of flies and a stench so strong they could not venture outside for everyday activities.

The county approved the permit for this tank without any input from nearby residents by tagging it as an agriculture use and cites its location within the Agriculture 1 zone (the only such zone in the county). The site was not visited nor was the country road that will see tanker trucks moving the product from storage to field, a part of the condition for approval. And then there are the wells and protected lands around the site to consider.

Recently, a major poultry producer agreed to settle when residents of Millsboro, Del., sued the corporation for drinking water contamination that may have resulted in multiple cases of cancer in the community. As part of the settlement, Mountaire Farms agreed to build a new wastewater treatment plant.

Considering the volume of DAF, the tankers, the acreage and no doubt the money, this is industrial use without accountability. If the state of Maryland forces the producers to pay for waste disposal, where will the waste end up? It should not be a product that makes money being moved around until it is on the ground or stored on the lot next door to become someone else’s problem.

Pam Olszewski, Salisbury

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