LOGANTON, CLINTON COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU-TV) — Officials in central Pennsylvania are calling for action in response to allegation of misconduct at a Loganton slaughterhouse.
A Clinton County Commissioner and an environmentalist from the area are among those seeking action as a number of Loganton residents raise concerns about Nicholas Meats allegedly violating state land application protocols. The company categorically denies these allegations.
“I mean listen, at the end of the day, everyone deserves to have clean air, clean water, a good quality of life,” Clinton County Commissioner Angela Harding said. “They shouldn’t have decreased property values, those are things we should try to maintain.”
Residents of Loganton are voicing their frustration over an oppressive odor and an alleged environmental breach from Nicholas Meats. Officials are not responding to their concerns.
“The company and the department protection and the county all need to work together to make sure there are best management practices in place to make sure that people in the community can still enjoy their lives,” Harding said.
One of the primary local criticisms is that the slaughterhouse’s application of animal byproduct to area lands, which is protected under law, allegedly exceeded legal thresholds and has led to contamination.
A local environmentalist says that while nothing definitive has been proven, the volume of application he witnessed while on site gave him cause for concern.
“Looking at the larger picture aspect of everything going on, there’s definitely concern that there’s more going on than what’s being shared,” John Zaktansky, Executive Director of Middle Susquehanna Riverkeeper, said.
The Department of Environmental Protection received several complaints about land application this summer, when the slaughterhouse’s nutritional management plan (NMP) said none would take place.
The DEP tells Eyewitness News that the company changed the plan as they are allowed to do legally.
“Please note that under applicable best management practices, operators may revise NMPs at any time and are only required to submit them to DEP upon the department’s request. In regard to Nicholas Meats, DEP has requested and received the updated NMPs,” Megan Lehman, Environmental Community Relations Specialist at DEP, said.
Nicholas Meats denies any wrongdoing.
The company and DEP both say that construction of a devise called a digester is being considered to help mitigate the plant’s odor for area residents. Those residents, however, say that the same plan has been offered to them for several years and construction has yet to begin.
“These applications are in the technical review phase, and DEP is currently awaiting a response from the applicant to deficiencies identified in the application. Additional DEP permits/approvals may be required for this project, and there is no specified timeframe for construction,” Lehman said.
A number of Loganton residents and environmentalists have signed a letter to Governor Tom Wolf and Attorney General Josh Shapiro asking for assistance in the matter.
UPDATE: In response, Nicholas Meat released the following statement:
“Nicholas Meat rejects the baseless allegations that it has caused contamination of area water and wells. First, Nicholas Meat LLC is an exporter of nutrient-rich food processing residuals that are applied to area farmland. Because land application of these residuals is beneficial for both soils and crops, the EPA, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, and agricultural experts support and encourage this practice, which is protected by the Pennsylvania Right to Farm Act. Second, the farmers that land apply Nicholas Meat’s food processing residuals do so pursuant to applicable laws and regulations, which includes ensuring that local wells and water are unaffected by the process. Finally, Nicholas Meat is working to obtain necessary permits for the construction of a Sustainable Resource Facility, which will allow Nicholas Meat to recycle FPR and water within the plant, greatly reducing its withdrawal of water from the aquifer, and generate biogas to help Nicholas Meat run its operations, which will reduce its carbon footprint. Due to the nature of the project, the permit application process is complex and involves review by local governing bodies and state regulatory agencies. Nicholas Meat has diligently worked to surmount the administrative challenges and already made significant financial investment to achieve their goal of constructing this environmentally conscious facility, and welcomes community and political support for its objectives. Nicholas Meat intends to move forward with construction as soon as it is authorized to do so.“