AVIAGEN TURKEYS INC. – ZENITH SITE #31 – Timeline of Permits and ICWA Comments
In 2021 DEP opened a public comment period for a Draft NPDES Permit for Aviagen Turkey Farm Site #31. Through e-mail, website, and newspaper articles, ICWA provided information about defects in the permit application and the potential effects of industrial turkey operations on water resources.
On August 16, 2021, Indian Creek Watershed Association’s written comment to DEP noted that Aviagen’s Zenith Sites are located on karst at the base of Peters Mountain where there are known sinkholes and blind valleys. The group expressed concern that all neighboring families and farms rely on private springs and wells, and that no testing had been done to determine what streams and springs might be impacted by runoff waters from these operations. ICWA requested that dye tracing be done and that stronger pollution control measures and water monitoring procedures be put in place before a permit is issued. The two streams in the Indian Creek watershed likely to be affected are Dropping Lick and Turkey Creek. ICWA Comment to DEP, August 16, 2021.
On October 4, 2021 ICWA filed a complaint to DEP that Aviagen was constructing on Site #31 in spite of the fact that no permit had yet been issued. DEP issued a Notice of Violation to the Aviagen site #31 at Zenith for construction without a permit, a violation of the Clean Water Act.
On October 28, 2021 DEP held a public hearing. Recording of the WV DEP October 28, 2021 public hearing and Summary of the concerns raised by ICWA and Monroe County residents public hearing.
On March 16, 2022, citing DEP review and evaluation of public comments, Water and Waste Management (DWWM) Director issued DEP’s final permit decision. “DWWM has reviewed and evaluated the comments made during the public comment period and a confirmation site visit by DWWM personnel was conducted. The Agency’s decision, and response to the public comments, is to deny the referenced Registration Application further review. An order of termination for the application will follow.” DEP Decision denying NPDES Permit and summary of public comments, March 2022.
On June 10, 2022 ICWA sent a FOIA request to DEP for information pertaining to Aviagen Site #31. See FOIA Request Aviagen Turkey Site #31 Zenith.
On June 13, 2022 ICWA sent a letter to the Division of Water and Waste Management (DWWM) Director Emery requesting that the application material for the pending permit applications be posted on the DEP permit information website and that Public Notice and Comment Period be opened for both sites. See letter to DEP DWWM.
In September 2022 Aviagen applied for “Permission to Operate an Infiltration System at Site #31”. If approved by DEP, Aviagen would be allowed to “filter stormwater and disinfected barn water through a treatment system and stormwater infiltration pond.” See Application Site #31
On September 29, 2022 WVDEP gave notice of a public comment period (September 29 – November 14, 2022) with a public hearing to be held on November 1, 2022 for Site #31. According to the DEP Responsiveness summary, during the comment period, comments were received via email and mail by 61 citizens and by 14 citizens at the Public Hearing. The comments received ranged from specific requests to being general in nature mostly concerning the potential for construction and operation of poultry houses on karst terrain causing contamination to groundwater, drinking water, or streams, or causing odors, noise, and light pollution. Recording of public comments at the DEP November 1, 2022 hearing.
On November 14, 2022, on behalf of ICWA, Appalachian Mountain Advocates submitted Public Comments on Aviagen Turkeys Application for Permission to Operate an Infiltration System for its Site #31. [NB1]
On November 14, 2022 ICWA also submitted Supplemental Comments and Requests Re Aviagen Turkeys, Inc. Application no. INF-2022-003.
On March 17, 2023 WVDEP approved Aviagen’s Permission to Operate and Infiltration System with several conditions. See the 3-17-23 Responsiveness Summary INV-2022-0003 for Site 31 and 3-17-23 Aviagen Site 31 Permission to Operate an Infiltration System.