State requests more data for Constantine permits
June 20, 2019
Two state agencies have requested additional information from Constantine Metal Resources, delaying approval for two subsurface permits the company applied for in May.
The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and Department of Environmental Conservation hosted a 45-day public comment period for Constantine’s wastewater management permit and reclamation plan. The comment period ended May 30.
DNR received 218 public comments, spokesperson Kyle Moselle said this week. The agency has found 30 substantive comments that warrant agency response, he said.
Based on public input, the agencies have also requested additional information on avalanches and groundwater data from Constantine.
Constantine’s wastewater management permit details a plan to build berms, or piles of rock, meant to deflect up-slope avalanches away from settling ponds, fuel tank storage and the access road.
“We’ve asked for an engineering memo to speak to the adequacy of the avalanche deflection structures performing as intended,” Moselle said.
DNR has also requested additional groundwater sampling below the lower discharge area.
Critics of the permits said it lacked substantial details necessary for consideration, such as avalanche danger in the proposed area, groundwater seepage into nearby Hangover Creek and management plans to mitigate pipe freeze in the winter.
“The permit application for a waste management system is incomplete without a plan for dealing with winter conditions, large amounts of snowfall, and the nearly constant threat of avalanches,” Takshanuk Watershed Council scientist Derek Poinsette wrote in a letter to borough staff on May 11.
On May 10, the borough hired an environmental consultant Enrique Fernandez to review the applications. Fernandez’s report found what he called insufficient water balance information, seasonal fluctuations and a contingency plan for potential fuel spills, among other concerns.
Constantine’s spokesperson Liz Cornejo said the company is working to provide the requested additional information. “This includes our knowledge of avalanches in the area and new water quality data we have collected since the initial data submission in December,” she said.
Moselle said agency response to substantive issues from public comment will be released with the permit decision.