04/23/04 — Letter says Duplin rendering plant plan may not be dead

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Letter says Duplin rendering plant plan may not be dead

By Bonnie Edwards
Published in News on April 23, 2004 2:08 PM

KENANSVILLE -- A letter e-mailed to Duplin County commissioners said a rendering plant could possibly be built in the county. This letter prompted a vote Monday by the board to try to prevent such a plant from being built.

The letter was the result of a meeting between County Manager Fred Eldridge and officials of Murphy-Brown and Smithfield Foods concerning rumors of a rendering plant being put at the old Georgia Pacific saw mill in Bowden Crossroads.

Eldridge met with Don Butler of Murphy-Brown Co. and Doug Anderson, vice president of rendering for Smithfield Foods in Virginia.

The letter said, "Anderson shared that Smithfield Foods, and not Murphy-Brown, had been approached by N.C. Emergency Management to investigate the various methods of dealing with livestock mortality issues following a disaster" like Hurricane Floyd, which occurred in the fall of 1999.

He said Smithfield Foods officials were asked to help identify sound disposable options for farmers in southeastern North Carolina. "Their research and work with Emergency Management has resulted in identifying rendering as the most environmentally friendly way to deal with the livestock mortality issue."

Eldridge added that Anderson mentioned several times that the state was pressing for a solution to prevent a nuisance in case of a public disaster. He said, "Anderson also stated that Murphy-Brown is not and had not been involved in this rendering issue."

Anderson told Eldridge that, once the solution focused on the rendering process, Smithfield Foods visited a number of sites in North Carolina "and Virginia I believe he said." Anderson said he had visited the Georgia Pacific plant at the Bowden Crossroads community, but Smithfield Foods had not made any decision about where to build the rendering plant.

He told Eldridge the county would be the first to know if a decision was made in favor of any location in Duplin County. "He went on to say that Smithfield has not purchased, leased or requested permitting of any property in Duplin County."

Eldridge said Butler and Anderson were upset that local newspapers had "taken it upon themselves to write articles based upon rumors" and had not talked to the Smithfield people prior to printing the articles.

Eldridge said he reminded both men that "the average person did not draw a distinction between Murphy-Brown and Smithfield Foods -- they are commonly thought of as one in the same."

Anderson said in the letter he would be glad to explain the situation to anyone, but he could not be reached for comment before press time.

Meanwhile, Bowden Con-cerned Citizens will hold an organizational meeting at 7 p.m. on April 27 in the Bowden Presbyterian Church. They're planning to fight any attempt to build a rendering plant in their community.

Georgia Pacific has confirmed its Bowden Crossroad property is up for sale.