Concerns Aired Over Planned Nash Co. Chicken Plant

A proposed chicken processing plant in Nash County is worrying residents of Raleigh and other communities because of wastewater that could flow into the Neuse River.

The plant operated by Sanderson Farms would dispose of 1.4 million gallons of wastewater daily in a watershed that is part of the Neuse River basin, a source of drinking water for Raleigh and several other communities.

The nearby city of Wilson has sued in an attempt to block the plan that calls for 500 broiler houses, 24 pullet houses and 48 hen houses.

Nash County officials have increased the amount of money to defend the lawsuit. County leaders are backing the plan because it would bring 1,100 jobs into the area, which has suffered from high unemployment.

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A representative from Sanderson Farms spoke about the proposed chicken processing plant in Nash County for the first time in a public meeting Tuesday. The Sanderson representative, Bob Billingsley, and a panel of environmental and economic experts addressed Nash County commissioners about controversial aspects of the proposed poultry plant.

Billingsley gave a power point presentation about Sanderson Farms, saying the proposed plant won't harm the environment. Chris Thompson with the the Wooten Company discussed an environmental impact statement done on the plant, saying grass planted at the facility's proposed spray field site would absorb the nitrogen from the spray, but said the plant would probably create some bad odors.

Many people who attended the meeting say they're still worried the plant will contaminate the environment.

"We're concerned about the environment. We're concerned about home values. We're concerned about the vision of the future of Nash county. This is a prime location. It's in a watershed area and we need to protect it," said Bert Daniel with the Nash County Landowners Association.

Concerned citizens weren't allowed to ask questions during Tuesday's meeting. A public hearing for that purpose is scheduled for May 10th in the Dunn building at North Carolina Wesleyan College in Rocky Mount.

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