Emerging Issues/Risks: NDEQ received an air quality construction permit application from Lincoln Premium Poultry (LPP) for a large chicken processing facility in Fremont. NDEQ has twice informed LPP that their application was lacking basic information, and in order to initiate review, the information must be submitted. LPP indicated the information is forthcoming. LPP previously applied to be covered by the construction stormwater general permit via DEQ’s on-line application system. LPP was notified they were covered by the general permit within two days of their application. In addition to the Fremont processing facility, poultry operations associated with LPP will be requesting permits under the Ag program. The Ag program is developing a template for the permit, which will contain operational parameters that can be customized based on the individual operation.
Accomplishments: NDEQ has adopted an aggressive program to get all Supervisors certified “Yellow Belts” for process improvement purposes. To date, 24% of all NDEQ managers have attained Yellow Belt status.
On Feb. 28th, NDEQ opened bids from five consulting companies to conduct a study of solid waste management in Nebraska. This is the result of LB 1101, passed in last year’s legislative session. The study will be the base of NDEQ recommendations on steps that can be taken to improve solid waste management in Nebraska. The recommendations will be submitted to the Legislature by December 15, 2017.
Misc. Items of Note: On February 7th, a team of NDEQ staff visited the site of the proposed Elk Creek Resources (ECR) rare earth minerals mine near Tecumseh. The team also traveled the proposed route of the 30-mile pipeline that will be used to transport groundwater generated during the construction and operation of the mine to the Missouri River. While NDEQ has not yet received an application for the facility, NDEQ chose to meet early with ECR in order to identify significant issues that will need to be addressed in permit applications. The discharge of the water from the mine is one such issue. EPA Region VII and the environmental agencies in Missouri and Kansas have already expressed significant interest in how the discharge will be handled. As much as 12,000 gallons per minute of saline water will be discharged from the mine into the Missouri River. ECR must demonstrate there will not be a harmful impact on the river from the discharge in order to proceed with the project.