December 18th , 2013 10:00 am Leave a comment

Quarry concern draws residents to water hearing

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Photo by Kayla Carter
Jeff White tells a hearing of the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation Division of Water Pollution Control about his concerns over the possible reopening of a quarry on Judge Ben Allen Road.

Jeff White told those who attended the public hearing for Aggregates USA’s water discharge permit on Tuesday that he grew up and explored the land near the quarry.

White and Carter County Commission Tom Bowers referred to Renfro Cave when they reflected on childhood memories in the area during the testimony portion of the meeting.

“My parents still live there,” White said. “I’m not happy with this.”

During the meeting, he also referred to concerns about the possible elimination of an endangered bat he has found in the Renfro Cave.

However, like White’s concern, much of what was said at the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation Division of Water Pollution Control hearing Tuesday night was beyond the agency’s scope.

But those who live near the rock quarry on Judge Ben Allen Road still spoke up about a plethora of issues surrounding the imminent reopening of Aggregates USA.

Biologist Jonathon Burr said organizing the meeting was protocol for a permit request made by Aggregates USA located to his agency. The facility first received the water discharge permit in 1994 and the site has been inactive since 1996, according to the hearing agenda. The site area is about 26 acres.

“This community wrote in and asked for a public hearing, so we gave them one,” said Burr, program manager for the Division of Water Resources Mining Division.

Even though the public notice requested that the meeting focus on water-related concerns, the point of the hearing was for Burr and his team to collect data from the community, no matter its relevance, he said.

“They can come in and say whatever they want to say,” Burr said.

The state agency’s mission is to monitor what is being emitted into public waters. The Division of Water Pollution Control is able to do that through permits, which may require businesses to operate under certain parameters.

 

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