Ma­nure is not Mary­land’s only chicken waste prob­lem

Baltimore Sun - - NATION & WORLD -

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.

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, Delaware, 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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