SELC, HC and Other Groups Respond to TDEC Denial of Request to Terminate/Revoke Volunteer Sand & Gravel Permit

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On April 16, 2021, the Southern Environmental Law Center (“SELC”), Harpeth Conservancy, Hurricane Mills Mining Opposition, Tennessee Scenic Rivers Association, Tennessee Clean Water Network, Tennessee Chapter Sierra Club, and Defenders of Wildlife (“Conservation Groups”) asked the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (“TDEC” or “the Department”) to terminate or revoke National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (“NPDES”) Permit TN0082236, issued to Volunteer Sand and Gravel, LLC (“Volunteer Sand and Gravel” or “the company”) for discharges at its sand and gravel mine sited adjacent to the Duck River.1 We made this request based on the company’s failure to comply with the conditions of its permit, failure to include relevant information in its initial permit application, and because the permitted activity endangers the environment and can only be regulated to acceptable levels by permit modification or termination.

On May 11, 2021, TDEC denied our request.2 The Department provided three reasons:
(1) Conservation Groups provided insufficient evidence that Volunteer violated the biological integrity standard during the March/April 2021 flood event;
(2) the mine will result in less soil loss than the previous agricultural use, therefore there is no environmental harm; and
(3) Volunteer was not required to disclose the flood study to TDEC.

We are providing this response because TDEC’s letter denying our request mischaracterizes our argument regarding narrative water quality standards and continues to ignore flood-related harm.

Read full letter sent to TDEC here.