Tuesday, September 15, 2020

MDEQ: Rankin Company Sickened Neighbors, Dumped Acidic Wastewater into Jackson Sewer System


The Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality said Gold Coast Commodities operated a wastewater treatment plant that sickened neighbors, improperly released Hydrogen sulfide gas, and improperly released 418,000 gallons of acidic water into the environment.  The agency ordered Gold Coast to shut down the facility on September 11.  The order also states Gold Coast illegally dumped millions of gallons of the industrial wasterwater into the Brandon and Jackson sewer systems.
Problems began when the city of Brandon determined Gold Coast illegally discharged oily, acidic water into the Brandon sewer system.  The city filed a complaint with MDEC in October 2016.  A MDEQ report explains the nuts and bolts of the Gold Coast Commodities operation:

(GCC President Tom Douglas) stated the facility refines used cooking oil and soapstock from various oil processers to produce liquid fat used in animal feed. He said they use gravity separation to remove the water from the used cooking oil. The soapstock and used oil are transported to the facility via truck and rail tanker from places in MS, LA, AR, and TN. Their site in Brandon, MS has five-million-pounds of storage. Mr. Cox asked him what kind of caustic Is used In the process. Mr. Douglas said they use caustic soda and went on to describe the process and reasons why caustic is used. He explained the facility adds sulfuric acid to the soapstock and used oil along with Increasing the temperature to approximately 180 degrees Fahrenheit via steam in heating coils. This causes the fatty acids to be released from the chemical bonds. Caustic is added after to raise the pH to a range of 6 to 8. I asked Mr. Douglas specifically if sodium hydroxide (NaOH) Is the caustic used. He stated yes, a 50% NaOH solution. He also said the sulfuric acid solution used is 92%. As we were walking along the process area, he showed us the caustic storage tank, the sulfuric acid tank, and the reactor vessel. Mr. Douglas explained the reactor occasionally overflows. The overflow is supposed to be contained within the tank farm area, which has a drain.

The agency initiated an enforcement action against the company in March 2017.  MDEQ discovered Gold Coast was also discharging industrial waste into Pelahatchie's  sewer system without a permit and started another enforcement action in May 2019.

Gold Coast did not confine its illegal discharges to Rankin County but used a Jackson company to dump its acidic industrial waste into the Jackson sewer system.   Gold Coast shipped the waste to Rebel High Velocity Sewer Service's facility on Wilmington Street in Jackson. Rebel in turn dumped the waste into the Jackson system without a permit.  MDEQ discovered the chicanery on October 24, 2017 and issued a cease and desist order against Rebel three days later.


Someone must have notified the Fibbies because the Justice Department filed a Bill of Information on August 20, 2020 against Rebel owner, Andrew Walker.  The Bill states "Company A" shipped millions of gallons of industrial waste to Rebel in 2016 and 2017.  Rebel in turn discharged the highly acidic waste into the Jackson sewer system without a permit.  Company A is Gold Coast Commodities. 

Facing trouble on all fronts, Gold Coast built its own wastewater treatment site in Rankin County and submitted an  application to MDEQ in 2019.  MDEQ issued a permit on August 13, 2019 that allowed Gold Coast to discharge 15,000 gallons per day into an aerated lagoon.  Unfortunately, Gold Coast soon reverted to its old ways.

MDEQ found storm water violations in an October inspection and notified Gold Coast of the violations.  The notices failed to deter the company from breaking even more rules. The order states:

An inspection by MDEQ staff on June 12, 2020 , of the Rankin County Wastewater Treatment Site revealed that Respondent had not installed the electrical lines to the aerators; that Respondent had not installed and was not operating the aerators; and that Respondent had not installed the required depth markers in the lagoon. MDEQ further noted the detection of odors from the lagoon both on- and off-site.
 The news only gets worse:

On July 20, 2020, after eight months of disposing wastewater into the unaerated lagoon, Respondent began operation of the aerators at the Rankin County Wastewater Treatment Site, an operation that should have begun at or near the time wastewater was first introduced to the lagoon. Emergency personnel responded to the scene when persons present during the initiation of aerator operation became ill. An investigation revealed that those individuals were exposed to hydrogen sulfide gas coming from the lagoon. Upon information and belief , at least one person was transported to the hospital. At the request of MDEQ, Respondent began monitoring the site and surrounding area for hydrogen sulfide gas. On or about July 21, 2020, the air monitors detected hydrogen sulfide gas at concentrations as high as 58 ppm near the lagoon, which exceeds the 10 minute-Emergency Exposure Guidance Level of 50 ppm. MDEQ has required Respondent to alter its operations to mitigate these occurrences.



Gold Coast still didn't learn its lesson:
MDEQ also received odor complaints and/or MDEQ staff noted strong odors coming from the Rankin County Wastewater Treatment Site on at least eleven occasions in 2020: May 8, June 11, June 18, July 13, July 20, July 31, August 3, August 24, August 26, August 27, and September 8. On August 12, 2020, MDEQ issued a Notice of Violation for violation of the nuisance odor regulation (11 Miss. Admin. Code, Pt. 2, Ch. 4) . In addition, MDEQ has received complaints of an increase in flying insects around the lagoon and surrounding properties. None of the above enforcements have been fully resolved.
There is also the matter of a big, yuge spill:

Finally, on August 30, 2020, the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency notified MDEQ that Respondent had released approximately 418,000 gallons of wastewater from the Rankin County Wastewater Treatment Site. This release traveled onto neighboring properties and into nearby creeks, resulting in a fish kill.
MDEQ determined Gold Coast had an illegal bypass, applied wastewater during heavy rainfall or when soil was saturated, didn't operate the aerators,  repeatedly discharged industrial wastewater into the lagoon when the aerators did not work, and failed to control odors emanating from the site.

The agency ordered Gold Coast to immediately stop sending its wastewater to the Rankin County site until MDEQ gives it permission to do so.

Gold Coast must submit within two weeks a plan to remedy the violations.   The company may request a hearing within 30 days.

Tom Douglas is the President, Secretary, and Treasurer of the Company.  Robert Douglas is Vice-President. 

Kingfish note: It is pretty clear that Gold Coast Commodities is "Company A" in the Bill of Information.  The Bill stated:

 19. It was the purpose of the conspirators and the objective of their conspiracy to benefit financially by removing Company A's industrial waste from its production facility and trucking it to locations in Jackson where they discharged it into the sewer system of Jackson, Mississippi at unauthorized discharge points, thus avoiding the expense of the pretreatment required by law, sewer usage fees, and the cost of waste disposal at a permitted facility. The conspirators thereby sought to profit by evading the regulations that protect the infrastructure of Jackson's sewer system and the efficacy of its treatment plant.

20. On or about November 28, 2016, Individual A-1 contacted defendant ANDREW WALKER and requested that the defendant transport Company A's waste to JWTS's Savanna Street treatment plant for disposal. Individual A-1 told defendant ANDREW WALKER that this was necessary because Company A had recently been ordered by local authorities to stop illegally discharging its industrial waste into the JWTS sewer serving its production plant.

21. Between in or around November 28 and December 28, 2016, defendant ANDREW WALKER trucked and hauled Company A's wastewater to JWTS's Savanna Street treatment plant and then to his facility, Rebel, where he discharged it into a JWTS sewer.

22. In or around early January 2017, defendant ANDREW WALKER agreed with Individual A-1 to dispose of Company A's industrial waste at Rebel and to arrange with Company B for its delivery to Rebel. For almost a year, through October 2017, Company B transported millions of gallons of Company A's industrial waste to Rebel where defendant ANDREW WALKER, with the consent and assistance oflndividuals A-1, A-2, A-3, B-1, B-2, and B-3 illegally caused it to be pumped into JWTS, the same publicly owned wastewater treatment  system into which Company A had already been prohibited from discharging it....

b.         On or about December 28, 2016, defendant ANDREW WALKER telephoned Individual A-1 and told him that Rebel had a permit allowing him to discharge into the JWTS sewer wastewater he had sent through his grease removal equipment called an ALAR processor.  Defendant ANDREW WALKER told Individual A-I that he was not using the ALAR equipment to process Company A's  waste but, he said, it could "provide cover" for both of them...

 1.             From January through October 2017, employees of Company A, as arranged and directed  by Individuals A-1, A-2, and A-3, loaded approximately three million gallons of Company A's  waste  into Company B's  tanker trucks for transportation to Rebel for disposal into the JWTS sewer  system.

J.           From January through October 2017, Company A sent checks signed by Individual A-2,  paying Company B for services described as "Transport Non-Haz Wastewater to Rebel High Velocity For  Disposal."

MDEQ issued a Cease & Desist Order against Rebel on October 27,  2017.  The order spells out the connection between Gold Coast and Rebel:

A.        Respondent  did  place  or  cause  to  be placed  wastes  in  a  location  where  they  are likely to cause pollution of any waters of the state in violation of Miss. Code Ann. § 49-l 7-29(2)(a). Specifically, the Respondent released untreated or partially treated wastewater received from Gold Coast Commodities of 817 N. College Street, Brandon, Rankin County, Mississippi  into the City of Jackson's publicly owned treatment works (POTW) which is likely to cause interference at the Savanna Street plant and result in pollution of a water of the state;

B.         Respondent  did  introduce  pollutants  into  a  publicly  owned  treatment  works  in violation of pretreatment standards in violation of Miss. Code Ann.§ 49-l 7-43(5)(b) and 11 Miss. Admin. Code Pt. 6, Ch.  I  Rule  l. l .1.B(2)(b)(4). Specifically, the Respondent  released  untreated or partially treated wastewater received from Gold Coast Commodities into the City of Jackson's POTW without the appropriate authorization...
Hmmm...... the owner of Rebel is named in a Bill of Information instead of an indictment.  Such is usually the case when a criminal defendant has cut a deal with the feds.  It would not be surprising to learn Gold Coast and its owners are the real targets of the federal investigation. 






24 comments:

Anonymous said...

Nothing is worth going to prison over. If you can’t afford to treat the oil, you shut your doors.

Will the Eap or MDEQ go after those sending their oil to Gold Coast? They would if it were a superfund site.

Anonymous said...

Don’t let the Dimocrat government tell you what you can’t dump in the river! Don’t be a sheeple! #MaskoffMS

Anonymous said...

I thought we got rid of all the environmental regulations. Who cares about a little acid in the water? Fake news nothingburger witch hunt of a story.

Anonymous said...

Didn't this company just get from 350,000 to 1,000,000 dollars in PPP "loans" that I guess are now "forgiven?" Just months ago. I mean, a GubMint handout, to pay off the lawsuits. What a damn sick thing this PPP welfare has turned out to be. I'm sure their lawyer's getting paid out of that!

And that was the company of that truck that rolled over off of Hwy 471 recently, too, isn't it?

No wonder that subdivision near them complained for years.

This business seems to smell in more ways than one.

Anonymous said...

Don't be a political dumb dumb 12:33

Nobody I know is for this type of activity regardless of political affiliation.

Everyone who knew this was going on should go to prison.

Anonymous said...

350- 1 million worth of PPP

Anonymous said...

So Gold Coast has a grease pit in Rankin County. That means it was approved by the board of Supervisors. Someone represents that district. They approved said location even though they were fully aware of the lawsuit Brandon the City had with Gold Coast. And the wheel keeps spinning.

Anonymous said...

2:43, what part of “shall not be infringed” do you not understand?

This state has too many liberals.

Anonymous said...

@12:33/2:43,

After your first comment I thought maybe, just maybe, you were trying to be funny. Your response at 2:43 to 3:19's comment shows beyond all doubt that you are a total Dumbass! I'm about as far to the right as one can be but this nothing to do with liberal/conservative. You have no right to do something detrimental to my health. There is a legal method for disposing of such waste. Just follow the rules. That's not being a "sheeple" you fool! That's saving lives.

Anonymous said...

12:13 If the Gold Coast were receiving hazardous waste, they would go after those transporting to them. I suspect used cooking oil and soapstock is not considered hazardous waste....although it appears a byproduct of their process was. Depending on what material is being produced / disposed, it's cradle-to-grave liability (incidentally, EVEN if the person/entity disposing of it has done so per the letter of the law! Figure that one out!)

3:18 It appears the Gold Coast was allowed to build a wastewater treatment pond, but either didn't build it to specs or didn't complete what they'd built. In approving of its construction - assuming this was the process - they would have actually been helping out things at the Gold Coast plant. Trucking it to an approved holding facility would have allowed them to come into compliance with the laws moving forward (of course that wouldn't change anything about what they'd already done wrong) That being said, the supervisors may have approved it, but they're not required to also be project managers.

Anonymous said...

3:53 to your response to 3:18. Let’s have an example shall we. Let’s say you hire an employee who was fired from several jobs for stealing. You know this before you hire them. Then you catch them stealing. Are you surprised at this? The Board knew of the lawsuit Brandon had with GC. And a simple phone call or two would have informed one of the illegal dumping in Jackson. GC has shown they have zero respect for the environment and that they lack responsibility dealing with their waste. So is it a shock, dare I say a surprise, that this has happened? Maybe to someone who was born last night maybe. Maybe you should go to Pelahatchie and drive by that pit. Let the smell take over your senses, permeate your clothing. Then after you have gagged and thrown up you may understand.

Anonymous said...

Brandon residents have been on Gold Coast for years. Any restaurant you patronize in the tri county area, likely GC picks up its waste oil. Prominent redneck lawyer that ran for AG that was former city attorney tried to get on them and got rebuffed at every turn. Rumer (intentional) has it that owner of company just bought $3M boat and keeps on coast. Both former city lawyer and owner of GC are blathering commentors on this site....

Anonymous said...

4:30
Prominent Redneck lawyer is still the city attorney.

Anonymous said...

Was GC in the biofuel subsidy program?

Anonymous said...

So, 4:21, short of putting them out of business permanently (which I'm not saying may not have been an option, but it IS one that wasn't chosen), what are the options? Allow them to continue to operate outside the law at their location? Allow them to continue to operate outside the law in Pelahatchie? It very well could be that the folks in authority may have thought their opening another (allegedly) compliant holding facility would put an end to their contamination record.

I don't know that for sure, but if they were allowed to continue to stay in business, doing what they'd done up to that point didn't seem to be working to well, did it?

Anonymous said...

Follow the money and see how many pols that you bump into.

Unknown said...

Government Assassination of local businesses year after year.

Anonymous said...

Hydrogen sulfide is not simply a nuisance.

It will kill you real quick.

Anonymous said...

Jackson Metro better hope all them grease traps continue to get sucked out with them super sucker trucks as needed.

Cause if them trucks stop sucking and them traps overfill then there will be fatbergs and grease clogs and poopwater erupting everywhere.

Temperance said...

RANKIN COUNTY GOLD COAST...hmmm...Where have I heard that name before. Wait, haven't they always been known for dangerous liquids and sending more than a few to area hospitals?

Anonymous said...

It’s very sad to see the government destroying the reputation of a small business with so many lies. Remember, there’s always two sides to a story.

Anonymous said...

"Cause if them trucks stop sucking and them traps overfill then there will be fatbergs and grease clogs and poopwater erupting everywhere.September 15, 2020 at 10:01 PM"

That clown who always holles, "The sky is falling!"

Anonymous said...

@4:30, they have had the boat for many years.

Residents around the GC facility have been complaining of the smell for years. However, GC was there first. They have installed expensive filters and piped in something to make it smell better. Rumor has it there was conversation of him moving the site to a rural location if City of Brandon would help pay for the move. Everyone is happy. They didn't care. I don't know the specifics of the lagoon in Pelahatchie, but I know he didn't start building it until about a year ago.

Anonymous said...

Anyone who would name their company after an area of Rankin County known for illegal booze, whore houses and gambling halls back in the day is probably not the most upstanding businessman. The name raises a red flag for me. Nothing shady ever happened on the "Gold Coast" of Mississippi!

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