In an April 4, 2005 article titled Neosho CAFO to generate 320 tons of manure daily, your paper discussed the proposed expansion at the MOARK Neosho site. I’d like to take this opportunity to clear up any misunderstandings about the department’s permitting process.
The Department of Natural Resources’ will not make any final decision on construction or operating permits for the three proposed MOARK facilities until after holding a public hearing. On a permit of this magnitude, the department believes that it has an obligation to make sure that all parties have an opportunity to be heard. We are working now to establish the date, time and place of a Public Availability Session and Public Hearing and will be announcing that in the near future. Only after the hearing will the department make a decision to approve, deny or modify the permit.
There may be some confusion regarding the Construction Permit Application for the MOARK Hathaway Project, which the department received on February 24, 2005. Under regulation, the comment period began that day and lasted for the next 30 days. However, even though the “comment period” has ended, the department will, as stated above, not make a final decision on the permit until after a hearing. The department will consider all comments received either during the comment period or at the upcoming hearing before making a final decision.
Another fact that may be causing confusion is the Land Disturbance Permit Application for the MOARK Hathaway Project, also received on February 24, 2005. This application is for a separate, general permit to allow MOARK to continue deconstruction of existing buildings and perform site grading. By regulation, the Land Disturbance Permit has very limited public participation requirements. The department issued the Land Disturbance General Permit to MOARK on March 25, 2005. However, approval of the Land Disturbance Permit does not in any way affect the applications for construction or operating permits for the facility.
The department is currently reviewing Draft Operating Permits for all three of MOARKs operations in Southwest Missouri. The review of these permits is extensive and ongoing. We expect to place these permits on Public Notice within the next few weeks. The official public comment period for the MOARK Operating Permits will begin at that time and will last for at least 30 days. As stated above, the department will announce a Public Availability Session and a Public Hearing regarding the permits in the near future. The meeting will allow citizens an opportunity to talk informally with staff about the proposed permits. Residents may also choose to go on the record during the Public Hearing portion of the meeting. Public Notices will be placed in local newspaper(s) 30 days before the meeting. A press release will be issued and information will also be posted on our web site at http://www.dnr.state.mo.us/wpscd/wpcp/wp-index.html . Files are also available for review and copying at the Jefferson City office. Due to the large volume of requests, the department charges a nominal fee of .10 cents per copy. A department staff person is assigned to help with copying, questions and to insure that the integrity of the original documents is maintained.
Director, Water Protection Program
Department of Natural Resources
Editor's note: Read letter that prompted this response here.