State regulators want to move the appeal of the revocation of Gold Coast Commodities’ wastewater permit out of Hinds County.
Attorneys for the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality requested a change in venue Tuesday in a filing with the Hinds County Chancery Court, where the Brandon-based chemical manufacturer challenged the revocation of its permit. The DEQ wants to move the appeal to chancery court in Rankin County, where Gold Coast and its lagoons are located.
On April 13, the state Permit Board revoked the Brandon-based chemical plant’s permit to dispose of its wastewater in a Pelahatchie lagoon. The company can also apply for a new wastewater permit with the board.
DEQ attorneys argue that state law requires that any decision regarding permit issuance, reissuance, denial, revocation or modification be contested in a court in the same county where the permittee is located.
A permittee has 20 days — once the Permit Board has recorded into its minutes the findings of fact and conclusions of law from an evidentiary hearing — to file a challenge against the decision. DEQ attorneys said the Permit Board hasn’t prepared and recorded these findings.
The permit is vital to Gold Coast since the company’s Brandon facility has been out of operation since the Mississippi Commission on Environmental Quality (a separate body) ordered it to stop dumping its wastewater into its lagoons at Pelahatchie in November.
Tommy Douglas, who manages sales and procurement for Gold Coast, testified before the Permit Board that shipping the wastewater outside the state for disposal, such as to the company’s companion facility in Chattanooga, Tennessee, would make it impossible for the company to continue to do business at its Brandon location.
Gold Coast Commodities utilizes a process to convert used cooking oil and soapstock — which is a byproduct which originates from the refining of soybean and other oils — into animal feed and biodiesel using sulfuric acid. The company’s wastewater disposal has been the subject of numerous enforcement actions by the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality and lawsuits by the city of Brandon and several workers overcome by noxious fumes at the Pelahatchie lagoon site.
Earlier this month, the separate Commission on Environmental Quality hit the company with $505,000 in fines for 11 violations of the state’s pollution-related laws.
The disposal of Gold Coast Commodities wastewater is also the subject of a federal investigation that has yielded one indictment of a contractor who illegally dumped the untreated wastewater into the city of Jackson’s sewer system. Andrew Walker, the owner of Rebel High Velocity Sewer Services, plead guilty in January to federal water pollution charges.