RAD Letter to WVDEP regarding Stormwater Permit #WVR109150

RAD Letter to WVDEP regarding Stormwater Permit #WVR109150 Violations at North Jefferson Elementary School

August 28, 2019

Dear Assistant Chief Inspector Wright, 

We are writing to report violations of Reissued NPDES/State Storm Water Construction Permit #WVR109150 (Jefferson Utility Inc, (JUI) Waterline, Tank, Booster, and Altitude Valve). The violations are occurring along the JUI easement at North Jefferson Elementary School (NJES), 6996 Charles Town Road, Kearneysville (Photo 1). The following violations were also reported using the Environmental Enforcement Internet Complaint Form on August 28, 2019 at 1:55 pm.

The violations involve a washout and exposure of raw ground that occurred after mulching and seeding stabilization on 8/20 (Photos 2-6) and over 6 days of standing water in the JUI waterline installation zone on NJES property (Photos 7-13). The first photos were taken on 8/17 and the last on 8/26/2019. All are taken from the same observation points in the eastern (drop off) parking lot of NJES that borders the installation zone. In addition to the dangerous conditions presented by the deep pond of water which is accessible to young school children, there is evidence of exposed soils and of sediment flowing off the parking lot. These are all unacceptable. Until stabilization is achieved, sediment controls should be maintained. 

ACTION: The WVDEP must inspect and report on the status of the violations occurring at NJES, and compel JUI and/or the other consultants and contractors noted on permit #WVR109150 (Thrasher Engineering, Snyder Environmental Services, Inc. and Mid Atlantic Storage Systems, Inc.) to properly remediate the area. 

ACTION: WVDEP must confirm that the area has been remediated properly with a post-remediation inspection and report. This inspection and report must be made available to the public in order to reassure parents and the community that the construction work being performed so close to the school is safe.

Evidence of Habitual Violations at NJES 

JUI has received two recent Notices of Violation (January 29, 2019; WVDEP Violation Number: W18-19-002-TAG and April 25, 2019; WVDEP Violation Number: W18-19-015-TAG) in regard their unsatisfactory sediment and erosion control practices near this same elementary school. 

ACTION: WVDEP must review this permit’s Storm Water Pollution Prevention Plan (SWPPP), Ground Water Pollution Prevention Plan (GWPPP) and Karst Mitigation Plan for adequacy to protect our WV rivers, streams, and groundwater. 

ACTION: We urge WVDEP to consider other actions, such as increased inspection frequency and reporting. 

Improper Sinkhole Remediation 

A sinkhole was remediated during the course of seeding and mulching to stabilize the waterline construction zone along the eastern perimeter of the NJES easement. Photo 14 was taken in November 2018, and shows how large and open this sinkhole was at the time. During the early phases of waterline construction, JUI cordoned off the sinkhole (Photo 15) but deferred mitigating it until final waterline install, back-fill, and stabilization, which occurred during the middle of this month of August 2019. 

ACTION: We request that WVDEP provide a completion report on the sinkhole. It is very concerning, as the sinkhole appears to coincide with the exact location where water is ponding along the easement.

Conclusion: 

We submit this violation complaint out of concern for the students attending NJES. The water-logged area is not secured with a fence or other structure to prevent children from entering this dangerous area, and it was noted by photographers that the ground near the water was soft and unstable. The school year at NJES began on Monday, August 19, 2019, and this water issue was noted by a number of parents during the first week of school as this water pooling area is clearly visible from the parent drop-off area. We have also been informed that the grass area to the left of the parent drop-off area is used by the school during fire drills and emergencies. In its current state, students would not be able to safely evacuate the school without risking students potentially entering the water or coming into contact with it.  

No construction project should put the general public at risk from harm. WVDEP’s permitting regulations seek to minimize these risks by requiring construction sites to conform to standards. We ask you to hold JUI and the other companies associated with this work site to those standards, especially when they are operating in close proximity to children. 

Thank you for your consideration and we look forward to hearing how the WVDEP plans to proceed in light of these violations. 

Sincerely, 
Rural Agricultural Defenders 

CC:

Brad Wright, Environmental Resources Program Manager (Assistant Chief Inspector), Division Of Water And Waste Management-Environmental Enforcement, WVDEP,  Brad.m.wright@wv.gov  

John Hendley, Environmental Inspector Supervisor – Construction Stormwater Statewide, Division Of Water And Waste Management-Environmental Enforcement, WVDEP John.h.hendley@wv.gov

Tommy George, Environmental Inspector Construction Stormwater, Jefferson County, Division Of Water And Waste Management-Environmental Enforcement, WVDEP Tommy.a.george@wv.gov 

David Simmons, Assistant Chief Inspector, Compliance Monitoring, Division Of Water And Waste Management-Environmental Enforcement, WVDEP David.C.Simmons@wv.gov 

James Laine, Environmental Inspector Supervisor, Compliance Monitoring, Division Of Water And Waste Management-Environmental Enforcement, WVDEP James.c.laine@wv.gov 

Katheryn Emery-Fultineer, Acting Director, Division of Water and Waste Management, WVDEP, Katheryn.d.emery@wv.gov  

Jeremy Bandy, Acting Deputy Director, Division of Water and Waste Management, WVDEP, Jeremy.w.bandy@wv.gov

Kathryn Skinner, President, Jefferson County Board of Education, skinnerboe@gmail.com

Mark Osbourne, Vice President, Jefferson County Board of Education, huntinoz@aol.com

Gary Kable, Board Member, Jefferson County Board of Education, garykable40@gmail.com

Laurie Ogden, Board Member, Jefferson County Board of Education, Logden1@comcast.net 

Arthena Roper, Board Member, Jefferson County Board of Education,  aroper4jcs@gmail.com

Dr. Bondy Shay Gibson, Superintendent, Jefferson County Schools, bondy.gibson@k12.wv.us 

D. Nicole Johnson, Principal of North Jefferson Elementary School, dnjohnson@k12.wv.us 

Patsy Noland, President, Jefferson County Commission, commissionerpnoland@gmail.com

Jane M. Tabb, Vice President, Jefferson County Commission, Vinemont.farm@gmail.com 

Josh Compton, Commissioner, Jefferson County Commission, jjcompton05@gmail.com

Caleb Wayne Hudson, Commissioner, Jefferson County Commission, calebhudsonforjeffersonwv@gmail.com

Ralph Lorenzetti, Commissioner, Jefferson County Commission, rlorenzetti@jeffersoncountywv.org