BIOGAS

Sussex biogas facility expansion subject of upcoming workshop

Charlie Megginson Business, Headlines

biogas

A public workshop will focus on permit applications for the expansion of a Seaford biogas facility that some say is anything but environmentally friendly. (Getty Images)

Delaware’s environmental control agency will hold a virtual community workshop on Sept. 28 to discuss a proposal to expand a Seaford biogas facility.

Biogas is a renewable fuel produced by the breakdown of organic matter, such as animal manure. The result is a mixture of gases, primarily consisting of methane, carbon dioxide and hydrogen sulfide.

Bioenergy Devco, the company that owns the Seaford facility, has applied for five permits from the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control: A resource recovery facility permit, two natural minor air pollution permits and two wastewater facility construction permits.

The facility is currently permitted to accept organic waste from approved poultry industry sources for composting. 

The proposed expansion would allow for processing of up to 250,000 tons of organic waste per year. 

In addition to an anaerobic digestion system, the proposal includes the construction of a wastewater pre-treatment system, biogas upgrading plant and emergency generator.

If allowed to move forward, the company plans to process poultry industry waste into pipeline-grade renewable natural gas and compost. 

The facility will accept poultry litter, hatchery waste, dissolved air flotation solid cake and liquid sludge, offal, waste-activated sludge, fats, oils and greases.

Opposition to biogas facility


At least one environmental advocacy group opposes the facility’s expansion.

Food & Water Watch Delaware believes that by creating a market for poultry waste and monetizing its production, biogas incentivizes the buildout of factory farming and deepens the state’s economic reliance on unsustainable farming practices. 

“Factory farm biogas, termed ‘renewable natural gas’ by the natural gas and industrial agriculture industries, is a false climate solution seeing increasing investment from industries posturing toward ‘greener’ revenue sources,” the group said after Sussex County Council approved the plan in 2021.

RELATED: Sussex P&Z approves natural gas facility next to elementary school

Food & Water Watch is particularly disturbed by a plan to truck the biogas from the production facility to an offloading station just 1,300 feet from Seaford’s Phillis Wheatley Elementary School, which is home to some 600 students.

The group is concerned because “local drivers and children at the elementary school next door will be in harm’s way,” it said in a March 2022 news release. “After all, ‘non-traditional’ biogas is just as explosive as ‘traditional gas.’”

RELATED: Bridgeville natural gas facility would put kids at risk, opponents say

Register to attend


According to DNREC, the Sept. 28 workshop will allow the community to learn more about Bioenergy Devco’s expansion plans and the information included in the permits. 

Attendees will be able to ask questions about the proposal. 

The meeting will begin at 6 p.m. Click here to view registration and connection information.

Public hearing to follow


DNREC will hold a public hearing on Oct. 26 at 6 p.m.

The hearing will allow attendees who have pre-registered to offer comments on the applications to be entered into the public record. 

Click here to register for the Oct. 26 public hearing.

Detailed information about the project and community resources are available at de.gov/biodevco.

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