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DEC rejects application from operator of contentious Meadow Lakes debris dump

Zaz Hollander

WASILLA -- State officials say the company that operated an illegal gravel pit and construction demolition debris dump in Meadow Lakes now has to move the waste to a permitted landfill. 

The permit B&E Construction needed to continue on-site storage of a debris pile more than two-stories tall fell through after Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation officials say the company twice failed to submit complete paperwork.  

The company can request an informal review or more formal hearing within 15 or 30 days, respectively. A company official said he hopes to work with DEC on a solution.

Earlier this year, state and Mat-Su Borough officials discovered the gravel and dump operations along North Pittman Road didn’t have the right permits and halted work -- DEC in April, the borough in June. Then both told B&E to file separate permit applications for the gravel pit and the debris disposal site.

Problems at the site came to regulators’ attention after nearby residents, some of whom say they filed complaints for several years, alerted DEC to the unpermitted debris dump. A borough code compliance officer later happened to notice the active but unpermitted gravel operation on an unrelated visit; B&E was supplying a major Parks Highway construction project and has since been replaced by another supplier.

On Friday, DEC told B&E to file a plan to remove the debris pile by Nov. 15, or face potentially stiff penalties. The pile is about 50-feet-wide, 170-feet-long and 25-feet-tall.

The company’s June 27 permit application to DEC for an “inert waste monofill” -- a less-regulated type of disposal site than a conventional landfill -- was found to be “significantly incomplete,” according to a DEC "decision document" dated Friday.

The company hired consultant NORTECH, an environmental and engineering firm with head offices in Fairbanks, to submit a new application, received by the state on Aug. 11. The company said it hoped to accept 10,000 tons of waste a year, or 27 tons a day.

But that application was “also significantly incomplete,” DEC said in the document.

Among the reasons: no enclosed $294 review fee; missing information regarding groundwater, drinking-water wells and the 100-year floodplain; incomplete site maps and drawings; an operations plan with inadequate detail and many incomplete sentences; and scant information on the eventual closure of the site.

Company owner John Emmi said this week that B&E still hopes to work with state officials to again reapply or find a closer disposal site than the borough landfill at 49th State Street near Palmer.

Emmi said NORTECH was “certainly qualified” but didn’t have enough time to submit a complete application.

He said it didn’t matter to him if the debris is allowed to stay at the site or gets moved to a closer disposal site.

“I’m sure we’ll get it figured out here eventually,” Emmi said.

The DEC decision marks the company's second setback.

The borough last month denied a gravel permit B&E sought last month to remove 100,000 cubic yards by July 2016. The borough rejected the permit because B&E had mined gravel along Pittman since 2006, far longer than the 24-month period required by this type of permit aimed at small-scale, short-term operations, officials said. 

The company has until Friday to submit a borough permit application for junk and refuse to address the debris fill on site. A borough planning official this week said that process is still underway, despite the state's decision.