Update: Water Quality Issues at AERP

From your Lumber Riverkeeper, Jeff Currie

On August 11, 2020, Winyah Rivers Alliance and the Southern Environmental Law Center sent a notice of intent to sue to Active Energy Renewable Power (AERP) for discharging industrial stormwater from the operating sawmill without having a permit required by the Clean Water Act. Within a week of receiving our notice letter, AERP applied for the required stormwater discharge permit, and on September 21 the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) issued the permit. Under NC law, these types of permits do not go out for public notice or comments. 

The primary goal of our notice letter was to make sure AERP obtained a stormwater permit, that the Lumber River was protected to the fullest extent of the law, and that the people who use or enjoy the river were protected from excess pollution caused by AERP’s illegal stormwater discharges. In this, we succeeded. We are still doing some final review of the stormwater permit to ensure that it is as protective as possible. 

While we are pleased that the company has received a stormwater permit, we remain concerned about the future wastewater discharges that are anticipated once AERP starts operating the wood pellet facility. According to a recent DEQ inspection report for the stormwater permit, DEQ noted that “Wood pellet manufacturing operations are planned for within the next several months.” AERP has still not applied for a valid wastewater discharge permit for the pellet mill’s operations. Unlike the stormwater permit, wastewater discharge permits must go through a public notice and comment period before being issued. 

 The wastewater permitting process will give us the opportunity to submit comments and suggestions to NC DEQ’s Division of Water Resources and make a renewed push for a full environmental justice evaluation of the proposed pellet manufacturing plant. It has been a long and tough journey to this point, but there is still more to be done, so we remain committed to voicing our concerns and objections as the process continues.

Please click here for more information on the wastewater permitting process and a detailed timeline of events.

Winyah Rivers Alliance

P.O. Box 554
Conway, SC 29528
843 .349 .4007

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