Just before the Mt. Shasta City Council voted on approving Crystal Geyser's sewer permit, they asked some additional questions of their City staff.
Councilmember Tim Stearns stated some folks commented that the EIR never evaluated those three newly-disclosed chemicals at all. He noted that people claimed that a Supplemental EIR was absolutely required because that issue was not addressed. He then asked City staff if the City should prepare some form of environmental review of those new pollution risks with at least an Initial Study?
City Attorney John Kenny incoherently argued that "people knew there were blowdown towers there", and that they should have questioned those chemicals during the 2017 EIR's preparation. Kenny provided no evidence that anyone knew then that CGWC would discharge any blowdown wastewater or chemicals. In fact, the EIR never mentioned the words "blowdown" or compressor "condensates".
Kenny also blundered stating that as far as the City knows, there was no substantial change in the EIR that would have significant or major changes to the sewer permit. He muddled, "This material is going into our system, it doesn't affect the requirements of the discharge permit wherever it comes from, you can't discharge that material, so what would we learn?" Clearly the City Attorney was confused and his answer makes no sense. What did he mean "you can't discharge that material", since this was exactly what CGWC was seeking permission to do? His point, bizarre as it sounds, was essentially if the City was clueless and ignorant of the health risks, then the City was exempt from preparing environmental review. He ignored the new evidence of hazardous and toxic chemicals presented by the public and its experts. Most curious, since he is an attorney, he even ignored the State law that he was informed about beforehand that requires subsequent environmental review under these circumstances. He ignored answering Stearns' question about whether some environmental review was needed? One has to wonder, in light of his bad advice, if Kenny hopes the City will get sued so he can earn more legal fees defending the City?
Then City Manager Bruce Pope suggested that the EIR did not address these blowdown chemicals because the EIR claimed the cooling towers were installed at CGWC’s facility prior to the County beginning the EIR, and that equipment was not subject to discretionary review, and therefore not part of the CEQA analysis. Of course that is not true. His argument is inconsistent with the fact that the EIR evaluated other impacts from that same equipment, such as fan noise from the cooling towers, and fuel emissions from operation of the boilers. Nearly all of CGWC’s equipment was installed prior to the 2017 EIR, yet the EIR claimed to have analyzed the environmental impacts of that other equipment.
There is no question that CGWC intentionally hid the company's intention to discharge these chemicals from the EIR and the public. Just obtained emails from CGWC's engineers back in 2016 reveal such discussions before the EIR was begun and their collusion to keep their disclosure out of the EIR.
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The majority of City Council voted to approve the sewer permit because they did not want CGWC discharging its industrial wastewaters into its onsite leach field and polluting the groundwater below. They believed that if they did not approve the sewer permit, Crystal Geyser would dump all its industrial wastewater into that leach field. What they did not tell the public however is that CGWC intends to discharge over 80% of its industrial effluent into the leach field anyway.
The public never knew this before the City approved the sewer permit. It appears the City Council also did not know this fact. So in spite of possibly using the sewer permit, Crystal Geyser will still pollute the groundwater with its industrial discharges. But had the City timely released public record emails as requested in January 2018, the public would have learned well in advance that CGWC wants to discharge 130,000 gallons per day of wastewater with such chemicals. The City permit only allows 24,000 gallons per day. City officials first disclosed these emails two days after the permit was approved, and 61 days after these public records were formally requested. The City had 10 days to release those documents, not 61. How did this gross violation of public disclosure rights occur? The City Clerk's duty is to ensure the City follow the California Public Records Act; John Kennedy, Sr. however is on record strongly supporting this Crystal Geyser project.