The Ohio EPA held a hearing on April 16, 2014 to accept comments about a proposed quarry discharge to the Kokosing River from the National Lime & Stone facility in Chesterville.
The public notice stated that the proposed discharge would come mostly from ground water and a limited amount of rain and snow-melt gathered as a result of quarry activities located on State Route 95 East in Chesterville.
National Lime & Stone is requesting a permit to allow it to dewater the mining pit, if necessary, as it continues quarrying operations. While the quarry has been in existence for a number of years, it has not discharged to the river.
The notice also states, as with most quarries, the primary pollutant is total suspended solids (mostly from rock dust).
Suzanne Matz, Ohio EPA Division of Surface Water Central District Office, prior to the hearing discussed the permitting process for the anti-degradation permit. She stated that they received application and “public noticed” the application, for 45 days. After the hearing, the EPA accepted comments for 10 days.
Matz elaborated that after taking comments into consideration they will propose a draft permit or a denial. Once that is done, there is another 30 day comment period. Comments can be sent about the permit at that time. After the comment period ends the director will take a final action whether it be a permit or a denial.
Matz continued to explain that anti-degradation permits purpose is to, “maintain existing use for all water bodies. This is the Kokosing River. It is an outstanding state water so we would not want the quality to go down. Any application that could impact the stream requires us to have an anti-degradation hearing. It is part of federal law, the Clean Water Act of 1972,” she said.
One attendee asked “Any idea the proposed quantities and/or frequency of discharge are?” Matz answered that the quantity is up to 4 million gallons per day. Frequency is not specified.
Another question was if the water would be tested prior to discharge and if so what would it be tested for. The concern was the Oilfield brine is used during the winter to keep the gravel workable. Oilfield brine contains high levels of chloride and other chemicals. brine itself is not permitted to be discharged into waters of the state. The response was that since this is only the application stage that this might be something that is addressed in the permit.
It was explained that NPDES permits, like the one requested, are issued for a five year period. It was also explained that EPA monitors the quality of the water and ODNR monitors the quantity.
One unanswered question to the EPA was, “What happens if the limits in the permit are not protective?”
Representatives from National Lime & Stone were in attendance and offered to answer questions anyone had after the hearing.
Matz stated that all comments, either verbal or written, submitted would be responded to in a a document called “response to comments.”
Approximately 15 members of the community attended the EPA hearing with five people testifying.
Concerns from the public ranged from quality of water wells in the area, draining of water wells, and contamination of the Kokosing, a state scenic river, and the possible harm to the habitat of the endangered Hellbender salamander.
A Representative of Delco water testified that while they did not have concerns about the discharge into the Kokosing they were concerned about the impacts on the two well fields that are owned by Delco in close proximity to the quarry.
After the hearing, the residents in attendance discussed their concerns and the need to share information with more residents. Chesterville resident Susan Grundy quickly organized a meeting which was held on April 22, 2014 at the Zolman building. Chesterville Township trustees attended as well as approximately 25 community members. There was a great deal of discussion about the effects on the water table, water quality, affects on an artesian well in the area, and the feasibility of dewatering the pit without totally draining the aquifer.
The Hellbender salamander again was discussed. While the application mentions monitoring Ph levels and total suspended solids it does not address chloride levels or total dissolved solids (TDS). TDS influences conductivity thereby affecting chloride levels. Also discussed was siltation which destroys the Hellbender habitat. With a discharge of 4 million gallons per day the amount of siltation was a concern.
When asked about how deep they will dig into the quarry a representative for National Lime & Stone stated that was, “proprietary information at this time.” Future meetings will be planned as the permit process proceeds. There are other steps including a hydrology study that needs to be completed. It has been suggested that the actual pumping may not take place for up to two years.
To ask the EPA questions about the permit you can call the Amber Kent, Public Involvement Coordinator at 614-644-2160.