The Mississippi Permit Board says in a filing in Rankin County Chancery Court that Gold Coast Commodities shouldn't be granted a reprieve on its wastewater permit while its appeal is heard.
The Brandon-based chemical manufacturer wants the court to restore its permit to dump its wastewater at a lagoon in Pelahatchie in advance of Thursday's hearing before Rankin County Chancery Court Judge Troy Odom.
The Permit Board says in the filing that Gold Coast can still conduct business since it admits shipping its wastewater to Memphis, Tennessee for disposal. The board also said that the company is lessening the impacts of the Pelahatchie lagoons on nearby landowners, who filed numerous complaints with the DEQ about the nuisance odors and flies.
As for the permit, the board disputes Gold Coast's argument that it can't dispose of its waste in Mississippi. The Mississippi Commission on Environmental Quality (a separate entity from the Permit Board) said in its order that Gold Coast can't dispose of its wastewater at any facility unable to legally process it and, if it finds a taker, would have to receive written approval from the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality. The board says Gold Coast hasn't submitted any requests to the Permit Board to dispose of its waste in Mississippi and that there are other facilities in the state that can properly and legally dispose of its wastewater.
The last argument disputed by the board is the one over the Open Meetings Act complaint filed by Gold Coast attorneys with the state Ethics Commission over emails exchanged among board members that the company says indicated that a decision about the permit was reached before the hearing. The hearing officer in the case issued a preliminary report that the board objects to having been placed in the case's record because it isn't a final order.
The board wasn't fined for the violations of the Open Meetings Act and the hearing officer found no evidence that the board's business is customarily done via email among board members. The filing also says there is no precedent to support reversing the board's decision after it was made following a full evidentiary hearing.
Gold Coast Commodities once disposed of its untreated wastewater directly into the sewer systems of first Brandon and then Jackson before the DEQ stopped both of those avenues. Both cities have filed lawsuits claiming Gold Coast's corrosive wastewater has damaged sewage pipes and other infrastructure.
Gold Coast 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.
After voting to revoke Gold Coast's wastewater permit on November 10, the Permit Board held an evidentiary hearing on April 13 and affirmed its decision to cut off the company's permit.
Gold Coast later appealed the decision in Hinds County Chancery Court, which issued a ruling to transfer the case to Rankin County, where Gold Coast does its business.