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Blue Ridge Community and Technical College reaches settlement on water pollution violations

February 23, 2012|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD | matthew.umstead@herald-mail.com
  • The new home of Blue Ridge Community and Technical College is under contruction on W.Va. 45 near Interstate 81 in Martinsburg, W.Va. Under a proposed settlement, a $9,910 fine would be assessed by the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection due to water pollution violations in connection with the construction.
By Kevin G. Gilbert, Staff Photographer

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — A settlement has been proposed to resolve water pollution violations at Blue Ridge Community and Technical College’s new campus, the state Department of Environmental Protection said Thursday.

A $9,910 civil administrative penalty would be assessed by the department as part of the final settlement, which is subject to public comments the state receives by March 25, according to a notice from the agency.

John Harris of Bastian & Harris Architects said Thursday the firm does not take exception to the proposed settlement, which would resolve violations of the West Virginia Water Pollution Control Act that occurred last year. Exactly who would pay the fine is not clear, said Harris, who signed the order on Feb. 14 on behalf of the college.

The agency said that Morgan Keller Inc., the project’s general contractor, began moving dirt at the construction site west of Interstate 81 off W.Va. 45 last summer before it received a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit from the state.

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The DEP also found that the company had started earth-moving activities before completion of sediment basins, according to court records.

While the agency discovered the work had been started without a required permit on July 29, the order also indicates Blue Ridge CTC gave the contractor notice to proceed with earth moving on May 15, the documents said.

On Aug. 15, Morgan Keller decided to stop work until the permit was issued after the DEP returned that day and found the work in question still was ongoing, according to the consent order.

Besides the permit issue, Harris also acknowledged there have been delays in securing utility easements, but the mild winter weather has helped keep the project on schedule, he said. The project could be substantially completed by late spring, Harris said.

Blue Ridge CTC President Peter G. Checkovich said Thursday that the school anticipates holding a grand opening in July. The school has stayed within a $16.5 million budget for the new campus project, he said.

“As of (Thursday), construction is right on target,” Checkovich said. “We have been very fortunate to have a great construction group who has kept this project running seamlessly.”

Checkovich said the roof for the first campus building is essentially complete, and most of the drywall has been hung. Painting has started in the 55,000-square-foot building, which is 20,000 square feet larger than the school’s leased space in the county administration building at 400 W. Stephen St., Checkovich said.

“If things stay on track, we will open our fall 2012 semester at the new building,” he said.

With the additional space, Checkovich said the school should be able to sustain enrollment growth.

“Of course, college officials are already looking and very preliminarily discussing building No. 2,” he said. 

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