Rapid Health Impact Assessment of a Proposed Poultry Processing Plant in Millsboro, Delaware
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In 2013, Allen Harim Foods purchased the former site of a Vlasic Pickle plant in Millsboro, Delaware, and proposed to convert the site into a poultry processing plant that would process approximately two million birds weekly. This generated concerns about the proposed plant’s potential to impact health and quality of life among residents. We conducted a rapid health impact assessment (HIA) of the proposed plant to assess baseline environmental health issues in the host community and projected impacts. The scoping and baseline assessment revealed social, economic, and health disparities in the region. We also determined that residents in the area were already underserved and overburdened with pollution from multiple environmental hazards near the proposed plant including two sites contaminated with hazardous wastes, a power plant, and another poultry processing plant. The projected size and amount of poultry to be processed at the plant would likely cause increased levels of air, soil and water pollution, additional odor issues, and increased traffic and related pollution and safety issues. The information generated from the HIA formed the basis of a campaign to raise awareness about potential problems associated with the new facility and to foster more engagement of impacted residents in local decision-making about the proposed plant. In the end, the HIA helped concerned residents oppose the new poultry processing plant. This case study provides an example of how HIAs can be used as a tool to educate residents, raise awareness about environmental justice issues, and enhance meaningful engagement in local environmental decision-making processes.