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Meridian man tries to derail DEQ permit for Kemper

The Kemper County power plant, a central piece of the Obama administration's climate plan that was supposed to be a model for future power plants has been plagued by problems that managers tried to conceal, cost overruns and questions of who will pay.
The Kemper County power plant, a central piece of the Obama administration's climate plan that was supposed to be a model for future power plants has been plagued by problems that managers tried to conceal, cost overruns and questions of who will pay. New York Times File

The state Environmental Quality Permit Board will hold a hearing Tuesday morning on Mississippi Power Co.’s permit to discharge wastewater from its Kemper power plant.

The permit is being challenged by Dan Check, a Meridian man who has been fighting with the state Department of Environmental Quality and Mississippi Power over Kemper for more than four years. Check said the permit issued in April should be invalid because Mississippi Power discharged treated wastewater from the plant before it had a permit.

He’s referring to a Sept. 20, 2013, agreed order between Mississippi Power and DEQ that said the utility began discharging wastewater from a reservoir at the Kemper County power plant from the fall of 2012 until January 2013 in violation of state law. The order contains no penalties for Mississippi Power but it required them to to monitor the discharge from the reservoir and set limits on the effluent that could be discharged.

“DEQ wrote them an agreed order when they didn’t have a permit,” Check said. “How they do that, I don’t know.”

Those limits were in place until the DEQ issued a permit in August 2014. Under that permit, Mississippi Power will be monitoring its compliance with the permit.

Mississippi Power already has submitted the written testimony of its witness, Charles R. Berry, a lawyer who has been with Mississippi Power since 1980 and who now manages its land and water programs. In it he describes the three locations where discharges will be into the Chickasawhay Creek.

“It is Mississippi Power’s position that MDEQ committed no error in its consideration of Mississippi Powers permit application or in its decision to issue the referenced (National Pollutant Discharge Elimination) permit to Mississippi Power for Plant David M. Ratcliffe,” Mississippi Power attorneys wrote in its motion to join the permit hearing. “The terms and conditions of Mississippi Power’s permit, as issued, more than adequately protect the water quality of the state of Mississippi and fully comply with current Mississippi law and regulations.”

The plant will use treated water from the city of Meridian’s sewage treatment plants to cool the power plant. That water is stored in a plant reservoir which was cited in the earlier violation.

The permit board meeting starts at 9 a.m. at the Commission on Environmental Quality’s meeting room at 515 E. Amite Street in Jackson.

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