chickenNational consumer group Food & Water Watch is criticizing plans by Perdue Agribusiness and Fibrowatt LLC to build a power plant on Maryland’s Eastern Shore that will generate electricity from chicken manure.

“Perdue and Fibrowatt are billing poultry litter incineration as a way to solve the problem of managing excessive amounts of animal waste, but it’s no solution at all,” said Food & Water Watch executive director Wenonah Hauter. “Taxpayers are about to subsidize an industry that has choked the Bay with its wastes and now literally will choke our communities’ air.”

A fact sheet produced by the group, Poultry Incineration: An Unsustainable Solution, lists the reasons for its opposition to the project. Key among them: a charge that poultry litter incineration might produce as much or more toxic air emissions than coal plants.

Factory farms on the Eastern Shore produce an estimated 300,384 tons of poultry litter a year “in excess of what the land can absorb,” claims the group, which says the manure is responsible for polluting the Chesapeake Bay and other waterways.

“But incinerating this waste is not a sustainable solution for a problem created by concentrating too many animals in one place. Incineration would introduce harmful air pollutants, including carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, arsenic, dioxin and nitrogen oxides that could cause respiratory and cardiovascular diseases, as well as cancer.”

Similar poultry waste incinerator projects are being proposed in North Carolina, Arkansas, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Texas, Connecticut and Virginia. Food & Water Watch says the plants could potentially receive hundreds of thousands of dollars in government subsidies and tax credits.

The Perdue project “serves as an example of how Maryland’s government would rather allow the industry to continue unsustainable farming practices and place the burden on its citizens to solve the industry’s waste woes.”

To access the report, click here.