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DEQ fines quarry over discharge.

Byline: Dylan Darling The Register-Guard

A Coburg-area quarry faces a $22,675 fine for allowing muddy water to flow into the McKenzie River.

The state Department of Environmental Quality has issued the fine to Coburg Road Quarry for discharging untreated water from its site to the McKenzie River and operating without a discharge permit. Muddy, or turbid, water is considered pollution because it's harmful to fish, other aquatic life and habitat, according to the DEQ notice of civil penalty to Coburg Road Quarry.

The company, owned by Vern Egge, is north of Eugene, off McKenzie View Drive on a bluff east of Interstate 5 overlooking the McKenzie River.

A company official on Friday declined to comment about the DEQ fine and said Egge was out of town.

However, Egge wrote the DEQ in April, saying the stormwater situation at the quarry and a nearby rock crushing operation did not require his firm to obtain a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit.

This is the first time the Department of Environmental Quality has issued a fine to Coburg Road Quarry, according to DEQ records. The DEQ in 1996 penalized Egge's previous company, Egge Sand & Gravel, for unpermitted discharge of wastewater, the records show. The company paid a $3,600 fine.

On March 14, the DEQ received a

confidential complaint

about muddy water flowing from the quarry into the nearby McKenzie River, said Courtney Brown, an environmental law specialist at the agency's headquarters in Portland.

DEQ officials visited the site on or about March 14 and saw turbid, or cloudy, stormwater running from the quarry into a culvert, the agency said. The water ran from the culvert into a roadside ditch before pouring into the river below the I-5 overpass, the DEQ said.

"Turbid water can be harmful to aquatic life, especially fish," Brown said.

On April 1, the DEQ notified Coburg Road Quarry that it needed to submit an application for a stormwater and mine dewatering discharge general permit by May 13. The quarry has not yet obtained the permit.

In his April 5 letter, Egge told the DEQ that his company does not need a discharge permit because a pond at the quarry's nearby crusher operation off Coburg Road does not drain into the McKenzie River.

"Any excess water goes back into the pond," he wrote. "This is why it was determined that we did not need a discharge permit."

In regards to the quarry, Egge wrote that

rainwater in the upper area of the quarry drains "into the rock base."

"There is no water that deposits in the (quarry) pit," he wrote. "The exception to that is a spring that drains through the asphalt driveway at the entrance off of McKenzie View Drive. This has always been there and flows some water year-round.

"As far as the pipe at the mine face, that was a culvert under the upper haul road that has been removed," Egge continued.

"The only water that went through it was when we had 3.13 inches of rain from March 9, 2016, through March 14, 2016. Any other moisture has been contained with berms and bio bags.

"I hope this clarifies the situation as I don't think that this qualifies as needing a (National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System) permit."

Coburg Road Quarry has until July 11 to appeal the penalty.

In 1965,

Egge started Egge Sand & Gravel with a loader, a dump truck and 13 acres south of Coburg, near the McKenzie River.

His company grew to more than 100 employees with a quarry encompassing more than 200 acres west of Coburg Road. A decade ago, he sold his company and land to Oldcastle Materials, the U.S. holding company for the Irish construction materials conglomerate CRH.

Egge then focused his attention on Coburg Road Quarry, the 40-acre quarry on the bluff above I-5.

Coburg Road Quarry sells many sizes of crushed basalt, from gravel to boulders, as well as sand and other rock products.

Potential uses for the rock products include driveways, roads, walking paths and water sculptures.

The quarry drew the attention of northbound motorists and residents in 2013, when more of the quarry's excavation became visible from the interstate.

Follow Dylan on Twitter @DylanJDarling. Email
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Title Annotation:Business; Owner Vern Egge, now facing a $22,675 penalty, has claimed Coburg Road Quarry doesn't need a permit
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Jun 26, 2016
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