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Residents keeping watchful eye on new asphalt plant in Trade

By Jonathan Pleasant
The Trade Community will soon be the new home of Appalachian Materials Incorporated, a mining and asphalt manufacturing plant owned by Radford Quarries of Boone, NC. Located directly adjacent to the Trade Volunteer Fire Department, permits for the facility were issued by the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) in July of 2012, and construction has begun.
The first applications for the plant began nearly eight years ago after a similar operation in Butler failed to meet TDEC and EPA guidelines. Even with the move, there were still concerns about the effect on water quality for a small stream located on the property. The principal problem was an early attempt to pipe the stream underground through a culvert to the other side of highway 67. With water pollution as a huge concern, the original application was stalled for several years in Nashville, until an appropriate mitigation plan could be agreed upon.
While the storm water permit was issued in August 2011, a separate document from the general construction permit in 2012, Radford will still have to open up a section of the culvert and stabilize the stream’s banks before the actual construction can begin. Because the project will disturb just over an acre of ground in total, there is also a required Storm Water Pollution Prevention Plan (SWPPP) that, among other things, designates several practices and actions the company must take to remain within state regulations for pollution control.
Road crossings have to be constructed, silt fences have to be installed to catch and slow runoff, no dirt can leave the site including on the roadways, and the construction cannot affect the stream or the nearby Roan Creek to the point that the waters become discolored or muddied. While the nearest TDEC office in Johnson City is too far to do daily inspections, failure to meet any of these guidelines could potentially be grounds for a state violation.
Additionally copies of the SWPPP and the company’s permits must be kept on site for inspection. TDEC maintains their own copies of this information on their website for public viewing as well.
While some residents of the county see the operation as a potential source of economic growth, many have voiced a variety of concerns ranging from pollution hazards to public health risks and truck traffic problems. Members of the Trade Volunteer Fire Department, which is the closest neighbor to the development, have been particularly watchful of the construction process. Assistant Chief Shawn Henson noted several examples of alleged contamination already ongoing,  including oil covered rocks and oil in the water at the site.
“We were at the fire department doing some pump training and noticed what smelled like oil,” said Henson. “We checked out the trucks thinking something might have started to leak, but we soon found it was not our trucks or anything in the building. After looking around we saw yellow buckets up on the hill. I personally walked up there and found that the smell was coming from 12 five-gallon buckets of hydraulic fluid lying on their sides.”
For the rest of the story, pick up a copy of this week's Tomahawk.