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Officials with the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) met with Indian Land residents at Indian Land Middle School on Aug. 7 to discuss a pending permit for Pressley’s Recycling Center and solicit public input.
Pressley’s Recycling Center owner Ronald R. Olsen has requested a permit to operate a previously unpermitted concrete crusher in the wake of December compliance letter from DHEC ordering him to address multiple regulatory violations at the site.
The center is located at 9531 Charlotte Highway.
The air-quality permit under review applies to the facility’s concrete grinder and its attendant equipment, but also places restrictions and requirements on other equipment and dust emissions at the site.
“Written comments will be accepted until Aug. 23,” DHEC permit writer Kirk Schneider said in briefing the 25 or so residents at the meeting. “The department will then review all comments and develop the final permit.”
Specifically, Schneider said the permit imposes requirements on the opacity, or thickness, of concrete dust emissions from the concrete grinder, facility-wide dust control, materials process, recordkeeping and reporting and shingle asbestos testing.
Schneider said there are only certain types of comments the department will consider regarding the permit: The facililty’s ability to comply with applicable state and federal air regulations, pollution control methods and types of monitoring and testing.
The department cannot consider comments related to noise, odor, lighting, highway traffic, plant location and zoning, or support for opposition to the facility, since they’re outside of the department’s purview.
In addition to Schneider, other DHEC officials were on hand to answer questions from residents who, in many cases, appeared frustrated with the bureaucratic catch-22’s inherent in some of DHEC’s responses.
For example, one resident asked if they could submit a comment requesting limits on the time of day the grinding equipment is allowed to operate so as to cut down on noise.
“We are taking all comments into account,” DHEC Air Quality Permitting Officer Liz Basil said. “You can make a comment, but then you have to follow it up with why you think the hours should be limited. But we don’t have any DHEC regulations regarding noise, so it is not something we would consider.”
Residents also expressed frustration with the department placing the company in charge of monitoring and maintaining accurate records for itself.
“As a homeowner, I’d like to have some assurances that these permit requirements are going to be followed,” Fox Ridge neighborhood resident Joan Yench said. “It’s a matter of trust, and I’ve worked in manufacturing long enough to know anybody is going to stretch things when you’re in control of your own monitoring.
“Discrepancies may well be uncovered, but it’s always after the fact,” she said.
Speaking frankly, Basil said DHEC simply did not have the time or manpower to monitor “very small emitters,” such as Pressley’s.
Local DHEC Environmental Health Manager Steve Moseley said that from a regional aspect, Pressley’s would be placed on a regular rotation of inspections, but the local office would depend on the community to report any violations between them.
Among those who attended the meeting were S.C. District 45 Rep. Deborah Long, S.C. District 16 Sen. Greg Gregory and presumptive Lancaster County District 7 Councilman Brian Carnes.
Long was one of several local leaders who have met with Olsen since his center’s issues have become public, as have Carnes and District 1 County Councilman Larry McCullough, both of whom reportedly met with Olsen, along with Indian Land Action Council President Pat Eudy and others.
Long, who has spoken out about the importance of the company’s adherence to state regulations, said she was impressed with how much Olsen has done to move back into compliance.
“The important thing is to make sure we follow the rules and and that we’re willing to talk and be good neighbors,” Long said.
Unlike the May 15 DHEC meeting on Pressley’s, Olsen attended the Aug. 7 meeting. Olsen declined to comment for the record, but welcomed residents through his vice president of business development, George Linville, to visit the location.
“We’re proud of what we do and look forward to working with the community to get this straightened out,” Linville said.
Pat Murphy, who lives adjacent to the recycling center and its concrete grinder, attended the meeting with her son. Jerry Murphy.
Murphy, who is perhaps the person most affected by the company, is among those who have reported problems at the plant to DHEC.
Jerry Murphy, like his mother, said he has noticed a difference in both the noise from the grinder and the amount of dust smothering his mother’s property since DHEC’s compliance letter last December.
Having worked with DHEC in the past on compliance issues as part of his job, Jerry Murphy said he understands both sides of the issue.
Murphy said he plans to submit a comment requesting the concrete grinder be moved farther away from his mother’s home.
“I’d also like for the operators to be trained properly so they’ll know if something is not being run properly,” Murphy said. “I will say for the record that I have no problem with the business, and as long as he’s complying with the regulations, I’ll be happy.
“Things have been better since all this started,” he said of Olsen. “I think he’s making a good effort.”
Beve Lynch, one of two residents whose complaints led to the compliance letter, said she isn’t as confident as her cousin Jerry Murphy about ongoing compliance at the business.
Lynch said she hopes Olsen will “do the right thing and clean up his business,” if not to be a good neighbor, then to at least help the community in which he operates become a better community.
To guarantee that, she said, will take more than an air-quality permit.
“I was glad to see DHEC come out and answer questions for the community about the permit,” Lynch said. “I just think the community has more concerns about his operation that just air quality. I think that now we need to have action from our county government as far as noise ordinances go.
“And I want to reiterate, I don’t want the business shut down,” she said. “I want, and I think many others do as well, for him to clean up and follow regulations like he’s supposed to so other businesses can move into Indian Land and not have to move in next to a garbage dump.”
Permit available online
An online copy of the proposed permit and directions for submitting draft air permit comments are available at www.scdhec.gov/PressleysRecycling. Click on “Draft Air Quality Operating Permit.”
Draft air permit comments may also be mailed to: SCDHEC – BAQ, Attn: Karen Lee, 2600 Bull St., Columbia, SC 29201, or e-mailed to email@example.com.
Kirk Schneider can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (803)898-4023.
Steve Moseley of the Region 3 Lancaster Environmental Quality Control Office can be reached at email@example.com or (803) 285-7451.
The deadline for comment submissions is Aug. 23.
See more specifics on the permit in our story at www.carolinagatewayonline.com.