By C.V. Moore
LEVISEE CREEK —
A demolition contractor wants to dump materials from dilapidated houses being torn down in Mount Hope on two acres of property on Levisee Creek Road in Fayette County. But at least one neighbor says the company’s permit to do so should be revoked immediately.
“A residential neighborhood is, in my opinion, not the right spot,” said Dennis Garrison, who owns land adjacent to the Levisee Creek site.
He is appealing the permit, saying it poses “an imminent pollution, safety and health hazard for the affected community and the environment.”
In 2011, B&B Transit & Scrap obtained a general permit to operate a Class D noncommercial solid waste facility, which is a type of dump that disposes of waste created by the owner of the dump itself.
This month, B&B’s application to register a specific site on the general permit was approved by the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (WVDEP).
“I don’t think they need to be a bit concerned,” says B&B’s owner, James Buckland, of the site’s neighbors. “I wouldn’t be if I lived there. And the (DEP) don’t worry about it either, so what more can I say? Of course, they want you to do it the way they tell you to do it, which we do.”
Garrison summarized his concerns in a notice of appeal to the West Virginia Environmental Quality Board, which oversees such matters.
“In particular, the road cannot handle dump trucks, excavators and other heavy equipment,” Garrison writes. “In addition, the project is adjacent to and affecting Levisee Creek which is a fragile waterway. ... Also, resident safety and children safety are at risk with this facility and the ingress and egress caused thereby.”
The board granted Garrison’s motion for a stay until a hearing in July. That means nothing can be taken into the landfill until the appeal is resolved. In the meantime, Buckland says he’s paying $30 per ton to have waste hauled to a landfill.
Garrison found out about the facility when neighbors called him to say that a bunch of dump trucks were driving past his house. Garrison says he wasn’t given any warning that the facility was opening.
A DEP spokesperson says there is no requirement to put requests for coverage under the General Class D Permit out for public notice, and that the general permit was properly advertised a couple of years ago.
B&B’s application to register the site, which is near the confluence of Levisee Creek and Toney Hollow, includes specifications on how the dump is to be constructed, but not how it’s drained.
The 2-acre area is on a slope. Six-foot layers of construction materials will be interspersed with 4-inch layers of dirt to create a mass that’s 25 feet at its tallest point. Two feet of dirt will cap the material.
The permit allows for 6,000 tons, or 15,000 cubic yards, of construction waste to be disposed of at the property.
Only certain types of materials are allowed on the site. Masonry, wood, smaller pieces of metal, packaging, plaster, and hardened construction materials in containers (paint, resins, etc.) are allowed, for example.
But a long list of prohibited materials includes asbestos, aerosols, lead, liquid paint, large metal wastes, tires, and pressure-treated wood, and other substances.
Buckland says he has paid over $100,000 to remove asbestos from the 26 buildings coming down in Mount Hope.
“All it does is turn into dirt,” he said of the material he has stored and ready to transport to the site.
“There’s nothing there to harm the water supply. It’s just wood. It’s just like up on the mountain when a tree falls, it rots. These trees were sawed up and put in houses and now they’re going to rot.”
Sediment and erosion control measures, like sumps or filter fencing, are required once the area is cleared.
Garrison wrote in a letter to the DEP that B&B appears to be building an underground water run-off system that will feed directly onto his property, which Buckland denies.
“He doesn’t know what he’s talking about,” said Buckland. “We put it in right or we don’t do it.”
His plans include building a silt fence to keep dirt and dust from going into the creek.
“We don’t have jurisdiction in terms of the water quantity and where it’s diverted,” says Kevin Lilly of the DEP. “If it’s moving storm water from one place to another ..., the state doesn’t have any regulations to address that. That would be a civil matter.”
Water quality, however, does fall under the WVDEP’s purview. If runoff from the site were to muddy up a stream, the DEP would address that, says Lilly. Usually such actions are spurred by citizen complaints.
A group that monitors the health of the Wolf Creek watershed, the Plateau Action Network (PAN), has been looking into the issue as well.
“Levisee flows directly into Wolf Creek, so PAN is concerned,” said Gene Kistler of PAN.
Neither a liner nor groundwater monitoring will be required since the facility is not in an area with karst or within a Source Water Protection Area.
WVDEP inspectors visit such sites on a periodic basis. Lilly says the frequency of inspections depends on the site — its size and the pace of its fill, for example.
Buckland says the DEP came out to the site and approved its location. He says he chose to locate the dump there because it’s owned by one of his partners, Rosa Graybeal.
It is the only facility of its kind in Fayette or Raleigh counties, according to the DEP, though there’s one in Hinton and one run by the county commission in McDowell County.
Buckland has a history of violations with the DEP that goes back to 2003, when he was found guilty of violating the Water Pollution Control Act on land in Raleigh County and fined $750.
A series of violations committed from 2007 to 2009 culminated in a 2011 consent order that fined Buckland $16,500. They related to a piece of property that’s now the site of Crossroads Chevrolet on U.S. 19.
The violations included failure to maintain sediment ponds, display public notice signs, obtain a valid permit, and meet other regulation requirements.
The West Virginia State Police also cited him in 2011 for improper disposal and failure to obtain information.
“The DEP knew about this guy’s history,” said Garrison. “They try to defend his honor by saying they’re glad he’s applying for permits. I said that our neighborhood is not a place for a science experiment or a laboratory.”
Garrison says the company has trespassed on his property, cutting trees, tearing up the ground, parking a dozer, and infringing in other ways on his space. He says he’s in the process of suing Buckland for those activities.
Buckland remains confident that he will get the permit after the July hearing.
The registration remains in effect for one year, and Buckland says he may or may not ask for a renewal, depending on whether he finds more houses to tear down.
Once he figures out the zoning and any legal restrictions, he says he wants to build vacation rentals on the property.
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