A state administrative law judge has dismissed the South Carolina Coastal Conservation League’s (SCCCL) challenges of state permits for the new port access road and marine terminal at the former Navy Base in Charleston.
‘We’re pleased that this has finally been resolved,’ said Bernard S. Groseclose Jr., president & CEO of the South Carolina State Ports Authority (SCSPA). ‘Every state and federal permitting agency has signed off on the plan, recognizing that this project benefits our neighbors, the environment and the economy.’
The favorable ruling removes an automatic stay of construction and allows the SCSPA to move ahead with the three-berth, 280-acre container terminal. The project includes nearly $10 million in environmental and community mitigation, along with a voluntary air quality program to minimize emission from both new and existing terminals.
Work that does not require the state or federal permits is well underway. A major building and structure demolition contract was awarded last month and sites to test consolidation were developed earlier this May.
After the state Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) issued water quality permits for the terminal and road, the SCCCL sought to challenge both permits before the DHEC Board.
The SCSPA questioned the timeliness of these challenges, but the Board agreed to hear the matter, ultimately upholding the staff decisions to issue the permits.
The SCCCL then filed contested cases with the Administrative Law Court. The SCSPA again argued that the SCCCL did not follow the law and filed its request for final review outside of the time period designated by the state code.
In his orders on the two cases, Judge John D. Geathers ruled in favor of the SCSPA’s motion to dismiss based on the fact that the SCCCL did not timely file their requests with the DHEC Board.
He wrote, ‘It is undisputed that the League failed to file a request for final review with the Board within the statutory time frame. The arguments offered by the League to excuse this failure to timely file are unavailing.’
In addition, Judge Geathers notes in his order that while the law gives affected persons the statutory right to request to be notified of a decision on the permit applications, the SCCCL did not ask DHEC to notify them of the decision.
‘Notably, the record in this case is devoid of any evidence that the League filed a request to be notified of the decision’’ Judge Geathers wrote in his order.