The Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality has approved construction of Costco’s chicken processing complex in Fremont and said it will issue a permit, allowing construction to proceed on the $280 million project.
More than a dozen people told the Department of Environmental Quality at an August hearing that they were concerned that the operation could hurt air quality in their community. The department reviewed and responded to those comments in a document signed Sept. 14 by Kevin Stoner, administrator of the air quality division.
The state required the permit because the planned facility — including a plant, feed mill and hatchery — will surpass certain emissions thresholds, according to the document. But the department said it studied the pollutants the operation will emit and determined that the project will not have what’s considered a “significant impact” on air quality beyond the property.
When the project is fully operational, the department said in the document, the greater Omaha area still will meet national ambient air quality standards for six common air pollutants.
The plant is expected to begin operating in the spring of 2019. It will employ about 800 people and will slaughter and process more than 2 million chickens a week.
Some structural work at the site began in August without a formal permit, under a variance. Now, expect to see work continue in earnest at the site south of downtown Fremont.
The project is on schedule, and the first building to “go vertical” will be the feed mill, said Walt Shafer, project manager for plant operator Lincoln Premium Poultry.
In addition to overseeing construction, project leaders are hiring plant managers, making decisions about plant operations and assisting area farmers in the process of building chicken barns.