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DWQ OKs quarry permit

Published 6:41pm Wednesday, May 15, 2013

One of two permits required for Martin Marietta Materials to operate a quarry in southern Beaufort County was approved by the N.C. Division of Water Quality on Wednesday.

The proposed project needs another permit a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit from the Division of Water Quality to address a proposed discharge of stormwater and groundwater from the mine to streams that are tributaries to Blounts Creek, said Susan Massengale, communications director for the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources, in a brief interview Wednesday. The decision on that permit is expected in mid-July she said.

“Obviously, we’re disappointed they issued the certification already, understanding that the NPDES permit is still pending, the discharge permit,” said Heather Jacobs Deck, spokeswoman for the Pamlico-Tar River Foundation, on Wednesday afternoon. “We’re reserving judgment on the whole process until we see what that permit’s going to look like because that’s really going to dictate whether or not the division has taken steps that we think are necessary to protect the creek.”

Deck said she learned Wednesday that the federal Environmental Protection Agency has asked for some time to review the discharge permit and related information.

“I think DWQ, as far as I understand, is waiting to hear back from EPA and getting their comments before they decide what their going to do with the (NPDES) permit,” Deck said.

The proposed quarry’s proposal to dump water used during mining operations at the quarry’s mining operations into nearby land is opposed by many area residents and several organizations. Some of them, including PTRF, are not opposed to the quarry, but the proposed method of disposing of water from the quarry. They have concerns that the water being dumped will pollute nearby bodies of water, including Blounts Creek, and harm fish and other aquatic life.

The 401 water-quality certification is required for impacts to wetlands as outlined in section 401 of the federal Clean Water Act. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers requires this certification from the state where impacts occur as part of the individual 404 permit process — the federal permit that addresses impacts to wetlands.

The proposed quarry — 1,664 acres where limestone aggregate would be mined — would be in the middle of 90,000 acres used for tree farming. If put in operation, the quarry would unavoidably result in the loss of 6.69 acres of wetlands, according to DWQ. To offset that loss, mitigation would be required. That means Martin Marietta would have to “create” 6.75 acres of wetlands somewhere else.

DWQ has received an acceptance letter from the North Carolina Ecosystem Enhancement Program to meet this mitigation requirement, according to a news release about issuance of the 401 permit. Payment from Martin Marietta to the Ecosystem Enhancement Program must occur before the company will be allowed to begin filling or otherwise impacting the wetlands.

For additional details of the 401 permit being issued, see future editions of the Washington Daily News.

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