By Randy Arrington
ALMA — The owner of a metal recycling facility along the Shenandoah River has responded to public outcry.
On Wednesday, Jody Salyards told officials with the Department of Environmental Quality that he would like to withdraw his application for a permit to discharge 1 million gallons of treated wastewater in the river each day.
“The applicant informed us that he would like to withdraw his current application and submit a new application with revisions,” DEQ’s water permits and compliance manager Brandon Kiracofe said Wednesday afternoon.
“The applicant has stated his intention is to revise his permit application to remove the request for a 1-million-gallons-per-day poultry processing facility,” Kiracofe continued, “so that the application reflects his operation as a scrap and waste materials recycling facility where automobile salvage activities also occur.”
The original permit application that was publicly advertised in early January contained two elements, allowing:
• Discharge of treated stormwater generated from a scrap and waste materials recycling facility where automobile salvage activities also occur.
• Discharge of poultry processing wastewater, sanitary wastewater, and stormwater from poultry processing plant.
During a public meeting on the permit application held Monday evening at the Stanley Fire Hall, several residents asked why the permit would be issued for a process the facility no longer practices. Poultry processing ended when Pilgrim’s Pride closed the facility in September 2002. Salyards purchased the property and began a metal recycling facility in 2008. He renewed the discharge permit with DEQ in 2010 and 2015.
“There will be no further action or public participation on the draft permit public noticed on January 9, 2020 since that draft permit has been withdrawn,” Kiracofe said Wednesday. “A new draft permit will be prepared based on the revised permit application… a copy of the new draft permit and fact sheet will be [sent out] … at the time of the first public notice.”
Kiracofe said he had no indication of when a new permit application may be received, but stated he expected it in the “near future.”
Once the new permit application is received and reviewed by DEQ, a new public notice will be issued and a 30-day comment period will commence.
Kiracofe also noted among his comments that, “if there is significant public response, then we may hold a public hearing.”
A big part of the public outcry over the permit application process was the absence of a public hearing, where comments are officially recorded on the record. Now that the key concern with the permit will be dropped from the application, it is unclear if the public will once again request a public hearing on the matter.
Salyards had previously indicated to PVN that he had no intention of actually using the discharge permit since the current wastewater treatment equipment at the Alma plant is not functional. In fact, the discharge pipe was cemented shut years ago. He noted it could take up to $20 million to upgrade the equipment and meet state standards.
However, Salyards was selling phosphorus nutrient credits to a poultry processing plant in Hinton (Rockingahm County). The Alma facility earned those nutrient credits by not utilizing the permit and not discharging at the site. The credits are part of a larger program that attempts to limit the overall load of pollutants going into the Chesapeake Bay. A similar program was created for wetland credits for developers to aid in the conservation of wetland habitats.
Efforts to reach Salyards on Wednesday were unsuccessful.