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Court affirms permit to build new wastewater treatment plant

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The Indiana Department of Environmental Management’s decision to issue a permit to the city of Hobart to operate a new wastewater treatment plant was not arbitrary, capricious or otherwise contrary to law, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled.

In City of Gary and Gary Sanitation District v. Indiana Department of Environmental Management and City of Hobart, No. 49A02-1106-MI-553, the city of Gary, which has an agreement with Hobart to treat some of its wastewater, challenged the decision to allow Hobart to build a new treatment plant. The new plant would shut down an aging facility in Hobart and discontinue the need for Gary to handle the wastewater. In 2004, IDEM issued the permit allowing the construction of the plant along the Deep River, a tributary to Lake Michigan. The permit set mercury limits of 3.2 parts per trillion and a monthly average of 1.9 ppt per day, which are less than the limits currently allowed at the Gary facility.

Gary asked for administrative review of the permit, which the Indiana Office of Environmental Adjudication, and later the trial court, upheld.

At issue is the interpretation of 327 Indiana Administrative Code 5-2-11.7(a)(2). Gary read the code to mean that subsections (a),(b) and (c) must be read together; but IDEM, the OEA, and the trial court found that only (a) and (b) should be read together and (c) provides a separate way to meet regulation requirements. When IDEM issued the permit, it only applied subsections (a) and (b). The appellate court found IDEM’s interpretation is consistent with the plain language of the regulation, as clauses (a) and (b) are connected by “and;” there is no conjunctive language connecting those clauses with (c).

In addition, the antidegradation factors cited in (c) don’t apply to Hobart’s permit mercury discharges, noted Judge Paul Mathias. The judges also rejected Gary’s argument that issuing the permit will cause significant lowering of water quality in violation of 327 Ind. Admin. Code 5-2-11.3(a) and 5-2-11.7(a)(2).

“We conclude that IDEM’s decision to issue the Hobart Permit was neither arbitrary nor capricious, and that the decision was in accordance with the law and supported by substantial evidence,” Mathias wrote. “And, although the Hobart Permit allows a new source for discharge of mercury, because Hobart will be able to close its non-compliant Nob Hill Plant and treat its wastewater more effectively than it is currently treated by Gary’s facility, the Hobart Permit will result in an overall environmental benefit to and will not cause a significant lowering of water quality in Lake Michigan and its tributary, the Deep River.”

 

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  1. Thank you, John Smith, for pointing out a needed correction. The article has been revised.

  2. The "National institute for Justice" is an agency for the Dept of Justice. That is not the law firm you are talking about in this article. The "institute for justice" is a public interest law firm. http://ij.org/ thanks for interesting article however

  3. I would like to try to find a lawyer as soon possible I've had my money stolen off of my bank card driver pressed charges and I try to get the information they need it and a Social Security board is just give me a hold up a run around for no reason and now it think it might be too late cuz its been over a year I believe and I can't get the right information they need because they keep giving me the runaroundwhat should I do about that

  4. It is wonderful that Indiana DOC is making some truly admirable and positive changes. People with serious mental illness, intellectual disability or developmental disability will benefit from these changes. It will be much better if people can get some help and resources that promote their health and growth than if they suffer alone. If people experience positive growth or healing of their health issues, they may be less likely to do the things that caused them to come to prison in the first place. This will be of benefit for everyone. I am also so happy that Indiana DOC added correctional personnel and mental health staffing. These are tough issues to work with. There should be adequate staffing in prisons so correctional officers and other staff are able to do the kind of work they really want to do-helping people grow and change-rather than just trying to manage chaos. Correctional officers and other staff deserve this. It would be great to see increased mental health services and services for people with intellectual or developmental disabilities in the community so that fewer people will have to receive help and support in prisons. Community services would like be less expensive, inherently less demeaning and just a whole lot better for everyone.

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