Jun 15, 2013

CLF got GAC to Drop Acid back in 2002

The Coastal Waters Project and the Conservation Law Foundation both took on General Alum  when evidence of at least three serious pollution problems emerged.  Only one was resolved. The failure to resolve the other two warrants an effort to make state and federal permits for GAC's industrial expansion plan contingent on  dealing with them, by GAC creating and implementing a shoreline remediation plan and an intertidal flat remediation plan to end those two pollution sources.

Background  the GAC Chemical plant on Kidder Point (photo) in Stockton Harbor has badly polluted shoreline conditions. Read history of industry on Kidder Point 

The GAC Chemical facility  is only the latest in a series of chemical & fertilizer companies that have operated there since the early 20th century. See 1998 GAC letter to DEP Bangor and its attached chart of results of aerial reconnaisance of site 1937 to 1990

CLF's 2001-2002  sues GAC Chemical. In 2001, CLF's then-attorney Roger Fleming reviewed the outfall records of GAC Chemical and discovered persistent ongoing violations of the company's discharge permit, specifically unlawfully low pH of outfall effluent
See a 3/27/98 Notice of Violation  sent to GAC by DEP, and the company's 4/20/98 Response to DEP

. On October 3, 2001 CLF filed a Notice of Intent to Sue under the Clean Water Act. On February 11, 2002, CLF filed this complaint.  Eight months later, on October 9, 2002a settlement was reached.   See: CLF Reports:Stopping General Alum & Chemical Corporation's pollution of Stockton Harbor   

The photograph in the above linked Stopping General Alum & Chemical page illustrates graphically three of the ongoing pollution problems on the GAC Chemical shore  The silvery mud in the foreground is acidic bauxite tailings that have eroded into the intertidal flat from a predecessor company's shorefront dump since at least 1957. Midground: see an eroding shoreline waste dump whence the bauxite came. The abandoned tank in the background has supplied its own multicolored wastes into another part of the same cove's beach and intertidal flat.  

Photos from March 2013 site visit (unless otherwise noted)
Shoreline # 1  Eroding sites March 2013.  Here and here  and hereDumped ceramic grinding parts (1) Here (May 2012)
Shoreline # 2  Shorefront landfills March 2013.  Here and Here and Here  Dumped ceramic stirring parts (2) Here

Abandoned structures 
Old import pipeline from offshore dock to now demolished plant Here and here
Abandoned pumphouse with two outfalls inside. Here and  here (closeup) *** 1998 Aerial of dischargefrom"abandoned" pumphouse
Abandoned closed outfall catch basin Here  ** April 8,1998 BDN story on waste buildup in basin that we ID'd and forced cleanup of.
Abandoned building w/ abandoned tank Here
Tainted flats below abandoned building & tank  From land *** from land (2) *** From air  from air (2) *** from air (3)

Agency Actions to date
On  April 16, 2004  two DEP marine ecologists sampled the mud.  Low levels of biodiversity was found. Ending erosion  of wastes by trimming bluff back and sodding it over was suggested but not carried out.  Report by John Sowles *** Report by Lee Doggett

Meeting with the Company
Last year  we took Colter and his CES environmental consultant on two walka along the worst part of his company's shores.  There, exposed strata of acidic  alum production wastes dumped along the shore in the 1960s and 70s  have eroded into the harbor, adding a silvery color to the mud in the clamflats, Nearby, red and black leacheate rises up through the gravelly beach and into the mud, with the apparently culpable derelict building & tank rising above it

We urged Colter to start by removing or cutting back and resodding the waste piles that are leaking onto the harbor's shores and adjacent clamflats. Then, we suggested, at least an acre of contaminated mudflat should be dredged up or dug up and landfilled, possibly onsite in the company's existing landfill.

Mr. Colter was enthusiastic at first: He wrote after GAC's enviro consultant CES gave him an update:
"I recently received options from CES for improvements to the shoreline to address erosion concerns.  We are working through the cost options to decide what will be best.  From a budgetary perspective, this will have to be a 2013 project.  I am pleased with what CES has proposed.  Once we have the cost pieces pulled together we will approach the DEP to determine the steps to move forward.   I will keep you posted." 
That was 7 months ago. No postings from Colter yet.

PROPOSED ACTION  Leverage mitigation as quid pro quo for company expansion plan.
Last September GAC  applied to the Searsport Planning Board to add an additional chemical plant to their property. The new facility would create "plastic pigments"  and would be a joint venture with Mexican chemical firm Dalegip America. See media coverage  here and here

We would like the new facility's state  or federal permits to be conditional on GAC creating and implementing a shoreline remediation plan and an intertidal flat remediation plan.  The eroding shore bluff, bauxited clam flat, and leacheate-drenched beach areas are all unlicensed discharge violations of the Clean Water Act.

Whether or not cleaup is tied to their expansion plans, if CLF did a site walk along the intertidal shore first without, then with, GAC's David Colter, you may be able to  convince him that remediating his site's historic shore waste problems -as responsible party- needs to be a top priority.

Colter has run a tight ship.  MDEP records show that the GAC Chemical facility has greatly improved its pollution controls since the 1990s. The company is locally well liked; it has a large local payroll and contributes to civic betterment projects.  Thus it is a disappointment that Colter seems to have a problem keeping his promise to deal with the facility's shoreline waste dumps.  CLF could help nudge the company along in the right direction

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