The Stanly News and Press (Albemarle, NC)

October 3, 2012

Judge rules for ALCOA appeals dismissal

By Brian Graves, Staff Writer
SNAP

Wednesday, October 3, 2012 — A judge's decision on Thursday means the ALCOA licensing process is basically starting over.

State Administrative Law Judge Joe Webster on Thursday granted ALCOA's motion to dismiss its appeal of the revocation of their Yadkin Project license.

ALCOA won their request to dismiss the case “without prejudice,” meaning the case could be resubmitted as if it it had never been heard.

The company's license was revoked by the state Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in December 2010. ALCOA later filed to appeal the state's decision.

ALCOA recently filed with the court to have its appeal set aside “without prejudice,” but that was contested by the DENR Department of Water Quality.

The company had hoped for such a decision so that it could provide a “fresh start” in acquiring a Water Quality Certificate.

Their contention was being able to begin the process anew would provide the state agencies a chance to review new data which ALCOA claims show progress in their clean-up efforts and avoid a trial which was scheduled to be held in December.

ALCOA didn't wait long after the decision to proceed with their plans.

After the judge's ruling on Thursday, the company filed a new application with the DENR for the license which would run for 50 years.

The department will have one year in which to act upon the new application.

“This new path will help us avoid a lengthy legal path and provides DWQ (Department of Water Quality) an opportunity to evaluate Dissolved Oxygen result that Yadkin has achieved in the last few years,” E. Ray Barham, Yadkin relicensing manager, said in a released statement.

This new action comes only a week after ALCOA had reached a voluntary agreement with the state on an agreement to begin a sedimentary capping project at Badin Lake.

Dean Naujoks, Yakin Riverkeeper, still contends ALCOA is playing fast and loose with its numbers.

“Alcoa had every opportunity to prove they did not mislead state officials in their attempt to secure the water quality certificate, but they have opted not to prove their innocence in court,” Naujoks said.

He contends that ALCOA is misleading the public when they say the company is meeting water quality standards.

“That is only for a very small portion of the project,” he said. “The most polluted sections of the entire Yadkin River are located in the 40-mile stretch of river that ALCOA manages.

Stanly County Commission Chairman Lindsay Dunevant had no comment on the judge's ruling.