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Carper Plan for Vlasic Makes Delaware First With Agreement to Benefit Bays and Economy

Release Date: 11/2/2000
Contact Information: Roy Seneca (215) 814-5567

Roy Seneca, 215-814-5567

MILSBORO, Del. – Once again Delaware is first. In keeping with its premier status as the first state, Delaware has worked out an innovative solution to an environmental and economic problem. Delaware’s solution is likely to serve as example for the rest of the nation.

Under a plan proposed by Governor Tom Carper, Delaware will trade – and reduce – pollution into the environmentally sensitive Inland Bays watershed in order to preserve a Vlasic pickle-processing plant that pumps $20 million per year into southern Delaware’s economy.

The plan involves an agreement between the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Delaware’s Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) that allows Vlasic to offset nitrogen and phosphorus discharge in exchange for a commitment to reduce nutrient runoff from 35 acres of adjacent farmland.

“This is a win-win situation for the environment and the Delaware economy, and offers a common-sense model for other states to follow. This permit shows how strict anti-pollution rules protecting a sensitive aquatic environment can co-exist with important economic needs,” said Bradley Campbell, regional administrator for EPA.

The Vlasic pickling plant discharges effluent into the Iron Branch, a tributary of the Indian River in the Inland Bays watershed in southeastern Sussex County. The plant employs 615 people and supports numerous other related jobs in the surrounding communities.

Vlasic’s discharge permit under the federal Clean Water Act expired in 1999. Because nutrient overloads threaten recreation and fishing, the state set targets in 1998 to reduce nitrogen and phosphorus in the Inland Bays and banned further discharge of nutrients from known point sources in the Inland Bays watershed.

Since Vlasic’s discharge contains a relatively minimal amount of phosphorus and nitrogen, when viewed in the full context of the Inland Bays watershed, EPA encouraged innovative options. EPA suggested that it would entertain a tradeoff to allow the plant to continue discharging nutrients in return for reducing nutrient runoffs elsewhere.

Governor Carper picked up the challenge and found a solution. Under the deal, Vlasic will convert 35 acres of cornfields to grassland that would not require fertilizing or tilling. This change will eliminate more nutrients than what Vlasic discharges from its plant.

Under the new permit, Vlasic will be permitted to discharge 6,023 pounds of nitrogen per year, which is 1,422 pounds less than the estimated nitrogen load from 35 acres of cornfields. The permitted phosphorus discharge is 1,460 pounds per year, a reduction of 185 pounds. Vlasic’s actual discharge of nutrients is approximately 20 percent of the permitted amounts.

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For additional information, please contact David Small at DNREC (302) 739-4403 or Kevin Lowery with Vlasic (856) 969-7417.