Mountaire’s Millsboro facility expansion increases poultry production, jobs

MILLSBORO – “Help wanted” is an immediate need at Mountaire’s poultry processing facility in Millsboro.

Proposed expansion of Rt. 24 facility is projected to create an additional 140 jobs and increase processing production to approximately 35 chickens per minute – or about 2 million chickens per week.

In mid-May, Mountaire Farms of Delaware Inc. applied for a Coastal Zone Act permit through the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control to expand its existing facility.

The processing plant expansion project will increase production by approximately 18 percent by adding a third kill line that will include expanding the existing picking room by 5,300 square feet on the south side of the existing processing plant, according to the permit application filed May 19.

“Any expansion in the Coastal Zone Act requires a permit. Rt. 24 is the dividing line. On one side, it’s Coastal Zone; the other is not,” said Mountaire spokesman Mike Tirrell. “Anything we want to expand on the side where the processing plant is it is in the Coastal Zone.”

Barring any unforeseen roadblocks or delays, the company’s plan is for the expansion to be completed and in operation sometime in the fall.

“We’re hoping for this fall.,” Mr. Tirrell said. “We do have get the permit first. That will be at least 90 days. If we can get all the questions answered and get through the process successfully then we should be started up in the fall.”

Total projected cost of the expansion, including new equipment is $14 million, Mr. Tirrell said.

Expansion will create approximately 140 jobs. Those will include de-boning, packing, inspection, trimming, equipment maintenance and truck drivers.

“Mountaire is hiring now in advance so we can train our people,” said Mr. Tirrell. “We’re hiring right now to fill these positions. We can train them right alongside the co-workers that are doing something similar.”

“This is a great opportunity for the Millsboro area, Sussex County and for Delaware,” said Mr. Tirrell.

Mountaire’s Millsboro operation currently employs about 1,800 people, which includes feed mill, hatchery and office personnel.

Proposed expansion will result in an increase in discharge flow from the processing plant from 2.3 million gallons per day to 2.4 million. Mountaire intends to modify its onsite wastewater treatment plant to accommodate the expansion.

Mountaire currently treats its wastewater with a biological system consisting of a dissolved air flotation unit, anaerobic lagoons followed by activated sludge, disinfection and water reuse and aquifer recharge through spray irrigation on 943 acres of agricultural land.

Mountaire will be upgrading its existing wastewater treatment plant to decrease the Total Nitrogen (TN) being applied to cropland as a result of the expansion.

“I can’t say enough about the cooperation that the state of Delaware has given us in this process,” said Mr. Tirrell. “We’ve had a lot of support.”

News Editor Glenn Rolfe can be reached at grolfe@newszap.com

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