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Sunday, February 18, 2018

Tastes like ... too many chicken houses? That's what some on Virginia Eastern Shore are saying

ONLEY, VA.

The giant processing plants of Perdue Farms and Tyson Foods stand about 13 miles apart on U.S. 13. It makes for a handy way to mark progress when driving the upper spine of the Virginia Eastern Shore, in Accomack County.

To most people passing through, the plants are the only poultry industry landmarks on the Shore. So that’s where our chicken comes from?

Those who live in Accomack know better.

Mosey down just about any road on either side of the main highway, and you’ll come upon clusters of low-slung, metal-roofed buildings that stretch hundreds of feet from end to end. They’re chicken-growing houses. By some estimates, more than 300 of them dot the county now, many put up in the past few years. More are on the way.

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28 comments:

Anonymous said...

Sounds like this was written by some transplanted retiree.
Those who still have to work for a living appreciate local industry.

Anonymous said...

What a crock....DEQ comments were spot on. Poultry companies have thousands of requirements for their processing plants to operate and discharge water. Poultry farmers have hundreds of requirements to meet in order to construct poultry housing. All are restricted and monitored by the EPA and numerous state agencies all of which can "pop-up" on their property to inspect and review the required daily records, monthly and yearly substantiated reporting's! Ford and Fick barking up the wrong tree...neither have one true factual bit of proof....just a warm fuzzy feeling....GET A LIFE. Lets put more oyster harvesting restrictions on these fishermen, I BELIEVE it is detrimental to the life of the oysters which may become extinct!!!!

Anonymous said...

why should privately held companies be allowed to pollute our environment and lay waste to the bay watershed just so a few folks can make a buck? about as stupid an idea as any I have ever heard of!

Anonymous said...

So, if poultry leaves ES of VA, what ya got?.....taters?

Anonymous said...

The reference NIMBY comes to mind.

Anonymous said...

It’s much worse than reported in this story. It used to be that local farmers supplied the processing plants. The owners of these industrial sized farms are not local and are putting local farmers out of business. However, there also appears to be a serious element of illegality here. The law requires ANY user of more than 300,000 gallons per month MUST apply for and receive a permit to withdraw water from our Yorktown sole source aquifer. The permitting process incluedes a critical analysis of the impact on the slow to recharge and dwindling aquifer and modeling to determine whether the discharge will compromise the wells of neighbors. This FAILURE represents a catastrophic failure to protect neighbors in poor rural areas and its hard to believe it was a mistake. I suspect this will become a national story due to threat of people’s drinking water and the gross mismanagement (or worse) of the process to protect the public’s drinking water.

Anonymous said...

Must be chicken farmers commenting so far. And some either didn't read the article or comprehend what they did read. One thing I noticed was that the water from the aquifer is being drawn out faster than it can be recharged, meaning they will run out of the water if it continues.

Another thing that grabbed my attention was that one in five of the population there lives in poverty. Despite the hundreds of requirements, how many are following each and every one and how many are "fudging" them?

We all need to eat and these companies and everyone involved with them deserve to make a profit, but at what expense? Things shouldn't be brushed aside and ridiculed by anyone. When the soil and water are ruined, you won't even have "taters".

Anonymous said...

When the soil and water are ruined the CAFO owners will move on and exploit another poor rural community and the people in the community, many of whom have lived there for generations, will be left without the resources that should have been protected. The next Flint. Totally predictable. Others need to get involved and help these rural communities to protect themselves.

Anonymous said...

Read Virginia Law 62.1-258 up to 270. The fine for withdrawing groundwater over 300,000 gallons/month (about 3 of these industrial houses) can be $25,000/day for every day the user draws water from our sole source aquifer in a groundwater management area without first getting a permit to do so from the State Water Control Board (which NEVER met an potential environmental assault it didn't like...including the permitting of fracking gas lines, discharge of hot water into Lake Anna from a nuclear plant, and the filling in of over 400 acres of wetlands for a development, etc) and the DEQ. Realizing that they failed to require the poultry houses to get a permit, required by law, now the DEQ has opened an "amnesty" period to try to get the 83 facilities (some having 24 houses within) to come in after the fact and apply. Look up THE EASTERN SHORE POST website on line and this Friday (16th) turn to page 5 for the full page ad calling for an injunction on current and future water use by these facilities until and unless it is determined that these industrial houses are not "drinking our future dry". Again, check out Virginia Code 62.1-269 where the State Water Control Board can place an injunction on these houses if they even "ATTEMPT" to withdraw groundwater in a groundwater management area (Eastern Shore of Virginia) without FIRST getting a permit!!

Anonymous said...

who was the drilling company that has drilled all the chicken house wells, that have no water withdrawal permits as acknowledged by DEQ?
Were they local drillers or "imported" from out of state. Try to get a residential well drilled without a permit. It won't happen!
VA DEQ has an Enforcement Section with huge fines that they can levy. Is the Enforcement Section ignorant, ignoring, or just incompetent?

Anonymous said...

It seems like every time we talk about zoning regulations for CAFOs the Big Ag lobbying effort focuses on how profitable and beneficial these chicken houses are going to be for the local farmers, and every time we talk about trying to get some accountability for the runoff and pollution coming from the farms, the same folks talk about how difficult it is to eek out a profit from these chicken houses and how unfair it would be to make these poor farmers do any more work. Not surprised to hear them talking out of both sides of their mouth, but disappointed that people fall for it over and over again.

Anonymous said...

While these chicken houses are providing employment for some residents now, what will happen to these same residents and their children when there isn't enough water to support the population in the county? Their houses and land will become worthless, and they will be forced to move and start over. We can't always be thinking short-term; it will come back to harm us at some point. Did we not learn anything from the over-fishing of certain species that led to moratoriums? We on the Eastern Shore and those people on controlling State Boards need to realize we live in a particularly fragile environment.
I am wondering if any of the people involved in the permitting process (or their family members or friends) are benefiting in any way from "overlooking" due process from the beginning, and again now by providing an "amnesty" period.

Anonymous said...

How many wells have been drilled without permits and how many of these gigantic houses have been erected. Please help me to understand the scale of the problem? If I’m reading correctly it’s large.

Anonymous said...

It’s estimated that in the next 5 to 10 years, after all the CAFOs we currently know are approved are built out, the permitted withdrawal of water will be 15 MGD. The recharge rate is 9 MGD.

You do the math.

Anonymous said...

OK....From someone who is pretty close to this, the near as we can tell, many or most of the wells were drilled by Bundick Well and Pump from Painter. But it appears as if many wells were drilled on each site for the multiple houses on one site. So lets say there are 24 66' x 600' houses on one site and 12 wells are drilled to serve the 40,000 chickens in each house, with up to 6 flocks per year in each house. If you look at each well, none of them would need permitting as they each serve only 2 houses. But the ENTIRE facility would trip the threshold many times over. So it appears to this writer as if there was an attempt to circumvent the regs through a loop hole, and now, Drew Hammond from the DEQ has realized this obfuscation and DEQ is attempting to get all the facilities to voluntarily comply with getting a permit for the entire water withdrawal on each site. Rule of thumb we use is that each chicken "drinks" 2 gallons of water over its 43 day lifespan, and another 1 gallon/bird is used for cooling, wash, and process water. So under these numbers, we calculate that anything over 3 houses uses more water than 300,000 gallons/month and needs a groundwater withdrawal permit BEFORE THEY EVEN ATTEMPT to withdraw a drop of water if they are in a groundwater management area (which we are...in the Eastern Shore of Virginia Groundwater Management Area, one of only 2 in the Commonwealth and clearly the most threatened. If you want to discuss this matter, email "enviroduf@aol" for more information.

Anonymous said...

Ever wonder how long this "beneficial industry" will last when the sole source aquifer dries up or gets displaced by saltwater? How is this sustainable? Anyone believe god is making anymore water? Look around the world where people are killing each other over water. Think that can't happen here?
As always, underneath it all is overpopulation- too many people dependent on fixed resources going out of balance. This individual well game to dodge the 300,000 G is chicken chicanery and an example of how little respect the industry has for those of you who live there. And by the way, no, we're not going to run away to Mars. Bob H. upstate NY

Anonymous said...

The most acerbic and emotional responses seem to be from the local family owned poultry farmers who want to believe that they will be establishing a future for their families. Unfortunately, the expense of refurbishing an out of date CAFO will outclass them, and with the non-farmer population dwindling here, and with no more tax-paying retirees coming to the area, the Shore will bow to nonnative investors, as we all know a modern CAFO, like a modern Walmart will be regulated by computers.

Unknown said...

and more diverse industry could come and the existing ones thrive if we didn't have to worry about running out of water (the law says PEOPLE first), polluting our air and existing ground water further...too much of a good thing! as the density of these CAFOS is unheard of-see what Tyson did to the Gulf of Mexico. there's a way to raise chickens here and this isn't it. If we're raising all these birds for China etc., why? because they can't get rid of the bird flu from their CAFOS!

Unknown said...

Some former oyster beds have been deemed too polluted and with a million birds at a time up the Pungoteague creek with a connecting pond, we can expect less oysters, fish, crabs etc. The phosphorous creates algal blooms which deplete oxygen, killing life in the water. As the required permits were not even applied for prior to wells accessing our sole source aquifer, I have little faith in the agencies to do the right thing and there is no plan or way to get rid of all the manure short of shooting it into space.

Unknown said...

hear, hear

Unknown said...

We've been told the manure can go on the fields-that much, I understand could make them unproductive for years as well as pollute our valuable bay and ground water. We've also been told there may be an annual odor for 3 days. tell that to the people in Wachapreague-oh, it's great that they put in fine ventilators! we get more ammonia to breathe

Unknown said...

I think it was in Kansas that a community got wind of coming CAFOS and thousands protested so tyson moved on-reminds me of Independence day.

Unknown said...

and given the recent info from the USGS of draw down of the Yorktown since 1984, NO chickens should be accessing it. We need to get our governor up to steam.

Unknown said...

I think it would be cheaper to undo them now, but, if they are to exist, they should access the plentiful columbia, the roofs should catch water for the birds (less runoff, too), the grounds should be well planted, ammonia scrubbers and rt 13 treated to retain more rain as its the recharge area.

Unknown said...

It is so unsustainable that it is criminal-SRAP (socially responsible ag ) for the delmarva is working hard and so are some others, but there seems to be a lot of fear in the ranks-even from 'shore' groups.

Unknown said...

rumor has it that some of the industry cannot get workers-so migrants are bused in from neighboring state-they are considering automation, so the death of a lot for what? and, would you want your kid working in a plant? we need to create a place that welcomes industry-lots of folks work from home, but they can live anywhere and the retirees and semi ones don't tax the schools, but, again, they have a choice if they can sell

Unknown said...

We in Accomack are told by officials other than our board, that this is a 'local' issue, so our fate is in the hands of a few who think jobs justify anything, I guess. We the concerned need to keep up pressure by attending board meetings (3rd wed each mo. in accomac 5pm-you may speak)- and ground water meetings on 3rd tues @ 10am where they inform AND answer questions. Things have gotten out of hand and it is imperative we educate ourselves and our board.

Anonymous said...

Joe, don't cave into these anti-chicken Libtards.