Do they have the right to pollute?
In his recent letter, John Petersen said Freeman Companies’ proposed sewer system is compliant with federal and state laws. While the effluent produced by the “state of the art” system may be compliant with the gross pollution limits mandated by Federal EPA, it fails to comply with the tougher West Virginia laws which differentiate between waterways of varying water quality (Tier 1, 2, 3). Specifically, the effluent will cause a drop in oxygen levels in the creek in excess of Tier 2 limits. The current draft permit grants Freeman an exemption to state laws.
Petersen said the system produces effluent that is suitable for “full body emersion.” But to take one of our finest creeks and convert it into a conduit for water of the purity of used bath water is an abomination. During periods of low natural flow, the Freeman discharge can contribute as much as 50% of the creek flow.
Petersen said the system is compliant with the Chesapeake Bay Initiative (CBI) and will result in a net decrease in pollution. Rebuttal: The Freeman system will initially meet the CBI by utilizing “offsets” derived from the old Coolfont sewage plants. West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection will allow them to discharge nutrient pollutants up to the amount produced by the old plants. In the current draft permit, that is 3,348 pounds per year. It is likely that other offsets will allow that figure to double in the future. The new result for the Bay will be, at best, a continuance of the same old destructive levels of pollution, but the net result for Sir Johns Run could be a large increase in pollution.
Petersen said the system was selected as the best of a number of alternatives. But the system was selected for cost and effectiveness. WVDEP allowed alternatives costing greater than 10% more to be eliminated.
Petersen said alternative multiple septic systems could be worse. There is no question that central sewage systems are necessary for large developments, but they must be done right.
Petersen said that to suggest that Freeman will pollute is disingenuous. Rebuttal: 3,348 pounds per year of nutrients and biological oxygen demand exceeding Tier 2 standards is destructive pollution.