State shuts down Carson City asphalt plant
Nevada regulators have shut down an east Carson City asphalt plant that has been the focus of complaints from nearby Mound House neighbors and ongoing oversight by the Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors.
Nevada Department of Environmental Protection issued a stop work order on Aug. 14 and effective Aug. 26 to Tahoe Western Asphalt LLC after citing the plant for several violations.
According to NDEP documents, department staff conducted a site inspection on March 23 and returned the next day to review plant documentation.
On April 16, NDEP held an enforcement call with the business and on Aug. 14 issued it a notice of violation, citing failure to maintain permit-required air pollution controls; failure to conduct permit-required record-keeping and monitoring; and failure to comply with permitted opacity limits.
Tahoe Western responded with documentation and on Aug. 24 NDEP replied. In its letter, NDEP outlined several reasons why it said the plant had not addressed the violations, mostly citing a lack of monitoring, including propane usage which is required by its air quality permit, or incomplete documentation.
“Based on our review of the records provided by TWA for activities that occurred at the facility in the period from August 17, 2020 to August 23, 2020, inclusive, the Nevada Division of Environmental Protection has deemed that the Stop Order 202lEA-02 issued on August 14, 2O2O (attached) requiring TWA to cease operation of all emission units shall be effective beginning on August 26, 2020,” read the letter.
Tahoe Western claims NDEP has long discriminated against it.
“Tahoe Western Asphalt has been harassed for nearly a year now by NDEP officials for issues that simply don’t exist. The trouble began when neighbors began calling due to odor and smoke related problems. Upon investigation by NDEP and other independent organizations, no odor was detectable on sight by a nasal ranger. Regardless of this simple fact, NDEP took the complaints and ran with it. Soon, we were receiving emails mandating we install hundreds of
thousands of dollars in new equipment and safety systems, despite the fact there had been no evidence to suggest Tahoe Western Asphalt’s operation was harmful in any way, shape, or form,” the business told the Nevada Appeal.
The plant, which is near the Lyon County border, has a special use permit from the city. In 2018, after repeated complaints from residential neighbors, the Planning Commission added a condition to the business’ permit to use an additive in its manufacturing process to mitigate odors.
A year later, the commission reviewed the permit and determined the additive was not working and at its February 2020 meeting removed that condition and added another requiring that odors from the plant’s operation not be detectable beyond the property line.
Tahoe Western appealed that and asked the Board of Supervisors to remove six conditions from its special use permit. The board largely upheld the commission’s decision and required the business to report back to the board on its NDEP permit, which it did at the board’s Aug. 20 meeting, when its attorney, Jeremy Clarke, Simons Hall Johnston, said Tahoe Western was working with NDEP on the permit renewal.
The Planning Commission will conduct an annual review of the business’ special use permit at its meeting on Oct. 28.