EPD Says City’s Chert Pit Violates Guidelines PDF Print E-mail
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Thursday, 01 February 2018 14:34

Fixing Area Would Take ‘A Million Dollars In Dirt’

Summerville officials said they were unaware that the chert pit on Highway 48 violated Georgia EPD guidelines.
The EPD sent a letter on Jan. 4 to Summerville City Manager Tony Carroll detailing how the chert pit was considered an open surface mine and it violated state guidelines.
"We do have the issue with the old chert pit coming up and we don't know too much about it," Public Works Superintendent Terry Tinney said.
"What is the issue with the chert pit?" Councilman David Ford asked.
"It is a surface mine," Tinney said.
"We were all under the impression it was closed years ago. We got a letter last week saying we were in violation of our surface mine permit. So it has not been closed," the city manager said.
The city has owned the 3.7-acre site since October 1974 when the city purchased it from William D. Ramsey and Harold D. Ragland for $10, according to property deed records.
"We've got the engineers looking at that to see what kind of money we are going to be looking at to get in compliance. We will either close it or leave it open, whichever will be more cost effective for us," the city manager said.
"Boy, that came out of nowhere. Didn't it?" Councilman Joe Money Jr., said.
The cost of bringing the site into compliance is unknown, according to city officials. But they fear it could get expensive.
The EPD says the city needs to change the angles of the slopes, according to city officials.
"I think the banks have to be a 3-to-1 slope," Carroll said.
"We will have to do something besides that because 3-to-1 will put it out there at the highway. There is no way to do that," Tinney said.
"It would be a million dollars worth of dirt," Carroll told the city council during a special called meeting Monday night.
The city has already hired an engineer and a surveyor. At the top, the city must build a 10-foot embankment along the edge of the drop off. The entire property must also be enclosed with a fence. 
"It was supposed to have a sediment basin back then. With ability to pump it dry if needed. . . None of that is there," Carroll said.
"We should have never owned it," Tinney said.
Here is the EPD letter to the city:
"On December 14, 2017, the Georgia Environmental Protection Division's (EPD) Surface Mining Unit visited the above referenced site to conduct a routine inspection. Surface mining activities are regulated by EPD under the Georgia Surface Mining Act of 1968. A copy of the inspection report is enclosed with this correspondence.
"During the visit, evidence of no recent mining activity was observed. Highwalls in excess of 30’ were noted on site. All reclaimed slopes in unconsolidated material must be 3:1 or shallower, with permanent vegetation established. The site has not been satisfactorily reclaimed per the Mining Land Use Plan which states, "the operator shall complete reclamation in accordance with this plan within 24 months of completion of mining." This is a violation of the Surface Mining Land Use Plan Section I-6. Please initiate reclamation of the site immediately or begin actively mining and submit a next Mining Land Use Plan to the Surface Mining Unit within 60 days of receipt of this notice.
"Please post an identification sign at the entrance. Please institute permanent site survey control on site. Please submit the latest Annual Status Report," the EPD letter concluded.
The city has used the chert from the site for various projects. But it was never heavily used and city officials began pondering other uses for the property. One idea was to turn it into a park, according to Nov. 1979 records. During deliberations, city officials decided the site was too dangerous for a park.
The city had a chance to sell the site in 2008. The city asked the public to submit bids for the property and only one was received. However, the city was persuaded again to keep the site in hopes of turning it into a park.

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