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TDEC Allows Tennessee Valley Recycling to Pollute for 6 Months


For Immediate Release March 6, 2013

Contact:          Stephanie Matheny, 865-522-7007 x 102 or 865-244-5121

Yesterday, the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (“TDEC”) issued the final permit for pollutant discharges from Tennessee Valley Recycling’s (“TVR”) Pulaski, TN metal scrap yard.  The permit allows TVR to discharge unlimited amounts of polychlorinated biphenyls (“PCBs”), total suspended solids, and oil and grease until September 2013, effectively rewarding the company for its chronic permit violations with a six-month compliance holiday.


“The people of Pulaski have a right to expect more from TDEC,” said Renée Victoria Hoyos, Executive Director of the Tennessee Clean Water Network (“TCWN”).  “TDEC should not reward bad behavior with a free pass to pollute.”


“TDEC has no legal basis for eliminating permit limits for six months,” added TCWN Attorney Stephanie Matheny.  “But, then again, TDEC had proposed to completely eliminate the limits, so the permit is not as bad as it might have been.”


The new permit retains the old limit for total suspended solids, imposes a more stringent limit for PCBs, and eliminates the zinc limit.  However, while the old permit required TVR to report its PCB discharges every month, the new permit requires TVR to do so only four times per year.  “Based on its own signed reports, TVR discharges PCBs much more often than four times a year.  TDEC is basically saying TVR can discharge unlimited PCBs the other 361 days per year,” said Matheny.


The permit is closely related to ongoing enforcement activities.  TCWN sent a 60-day notice of intent to sue TVR in August 2012 for chronic violations of PCB and solids limits.  In its response to public comments, TDEC claims it had issued an enforcement order with a $65,000 penalty.  But, what TDEC does not tell the public is that the order gives TVR a free pass on its PCB violations or that TVR only has to pay $16,250 of this penalty.


TDEC also notes TVR cleaned out its pond in November 2012, but fails to mention that TVR nonetheless reported a PCB violation in December 2012, and solids violations in December 2012 and January 2013.  “TVR is a chronic violator, going back for many years.  We need some serious enforcement, not just a slap on the hand,” noted Hoyos. 


For more information, including copies of the permit, comments, and order, go to http://tcwn.org/cleanwater1.

Tennessee Clean Water Network

625 Market St.

Knoxville, TN 37902


Mailing Address:

PO BOX 1521

Knoxville, TN 37902


Office: 865.522.7007

Fax: 865.525.4988