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Oskar Blues Permit Violations

Updated: Monday, August 18 2014, 03:12 PM EDT
Oskar Blues Permit Violations story image
Officials with Brevard are now faced with more than $9,000 in fines after North Carolina's Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) fined the city after violating the state issued permit for its waste water treatment plant.

City officials including Jay Johnston, Director of Engineering and Utilities for Brevard, say the problems lie with Oskar Blues Brewery that's not treating their waste water properly before it leaves the plant. "We are responsible for our permit and our violations," says Johnston. "North Carolina DENR and the city recognizes that the first and the most immediate way to get back into compliance is for Oskar Blues to pre-treat their wastewater."

News 13 reported on the issues involving Oskar Blues lack of waste water treatment at their Brevard Brewery last September. Johnston said the waste water that comes from the plant is hot and at times reaches 140-degrees. There are also other issues with the release that impacts Brevard's waste water facility which is unable to treat the concentration of water coming from the brewery into Brevard's treatment facility. The city had given Oskar Blues a grace period to put in proper infrastructure, but Johnston said that period ended June 2013

Reports obtained by News 13 show Brevard has violated permit restrictions 13 of the last 16 months. "The reason we are violating at the plant is connected to the effluent we are receiving from the Oskar Blues facility," says Joe Moore, Brevard City Manager.

Moore says in recent days officials at the brewery have presented plans for their treatment plant. He says the brewery has done some things to try and deal with the water issues but that it's not getting the job done. News 13 contacted officials locally and in Colorado at Oskar Blues headquarters, but a local spokeswoman said the company has no comment.

A letter dated June 9, 2014 shows DENR has fined the city of Brevard $2,147 for waste water permit violations for September 2013 and October 2013. The city received another fine for $1600 for November 2014 and $3100 for January 2014 waste water plant violations.

The city cannot pass the fines onto the brewery because there are currently no permitting policies in place to demand the brewery pay the fines even if evidence from DENR shows the plant is at fault. The City of Brevard plans to now move forward with issuing a permit policy to the plant to operate and use city water. In that permit will be specific requirements that the plant must meet to show that Oskar Blues is working towards managing their waste water issues.

Johnston says the brewery lets out approximately 15,000 gallons a day of waste water from their plant that then goes to Brevard's treatment center. The water ultimately spills out into the Davidson river which feeds into the French Broad.

Jeff Menzel, with NCDENR says the following about the violations:  "The limitations of the permit are set up to protect the environment and health of the stream, The French Broad.  It takes oxygen out of the water when there are these limit violations. That has the potential to threaten the aquatic system, including fish, if the violations are allowed to continue, en masse."

Ultimately the fines would have to be paid using taxpayer money. City officials are trying to negotiate with DENR to bring the fines down and instead have the funds go towards improvements at the waste water plant. Johnston says he expects the violations of the city's permit will continue for another twelve months until Oskar Blues gets the necessary infrastructure to manage the waste water they're releasing on a weekly basis.

By: Kimberly King
Follow Kim on Twitter @KimKingReportsOskar Blues Permit Violations
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