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Quarry permit has conditions

Published 5:28pm Thursday, May 16, 2013

The permit issued Wednesday for the proposed Martin Marietta Materials limestone aggregate quarry in southern Beaufort County includes conditions.

Those conditions were recommended by Kathy Stecker, the hearing officer who recommended the N.C. Division of Water Quality issue the 401 water-quality certification permit. That permit 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 401 permit process — the federal permit that addresses impacts to wetlands.

Stecker attended the March 14 public hearing on the proposal for the quarry to discharge water used at the quarry into nearby wetlands, with that water making its way into area bodies of water, including Blounts Creek.

Another permit, a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit from the Division of Water Quality, is needed for the project to move forward.

“I believe that a water quality certification can be issued for the proposed project. I offer some conditions for your consideration,” Stecker wrote in her hearing officer’s report. “I recommend that staff construct appropriate language for including these conditions in the certification. Conditions should address the following issues for the life of the project:

“1.) Proper placement, storage, and stabilization of overburden.

2.) Monitoring headwater stream stability, and remediation as needed to prevent continued degradation.

3.) Monitoring adjacent surface water quality to ensure that the project does not result in violation of water quality standards.

4.) Monitoring of perimeter ditches to ensure maintenance of hydration to wetland areas.”

Stecker’s report concludes that Martin Marietta Materials has proven there is no practical alternative that can accomplish the project’s basic purpose with less adverse impact. “The project does not result in the degradation of groundwaters or surface waters,” reads Stecker’s third of six findings in her report.

The report reads that “recommended conditions should ensure that the project (quarry pit and overburden stockpile) does not result in water quality standards violations. This type of project would not be expected to result in degradation of groundwaters.”

Stecker’s report was sent to Charles Wakild, DWQ’s director May 7.

“My opinion is it’s the wrong decision, of course. That’s what we’ve been against all along — the 401 certificate the NPDES permit,” said Bob Boulden, captain of the charter boat Miss Bea and who spoke at the March 14 hearing, on Thursday. “From what I’ve said in the past, there’s a group of us concerned with, of course, the impact to the creek. It’s not a big creek.”

Boulden said the quarry’s discharge into Blounts Creek would make a significant difference in the creek, no matter what studies say.

“The two key things are wind. When you have a strong easterly, it backs the water up. I can’t understand how it’s not going to flood the area. And when it comes from the other way, when we get a strong westerly, there’s much less water in the creek. They’re not going to do a proportional discharge, so when there’s hardly any water in the creek, they’re just going to exacerbate the problem with additional amounts of fresh water. Pretty much, it’s that simple.”

If approved, the 649-acre quarry would straddle the Beaufort County-Craven County line. It would be off Welbourn Road on Weyerhaeuser property.

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