Phase III allowed to cover wetlands near Palmerton, DEP says
Phase III Environmental has obtained approval to cover the wetlands in Palmerton, but the company has to create a new wetland area. TIMES NEWS FILE PHOTO
Phase III Environmental received a permit last month to cover wetlands at the site of New Jersey Zinc’s former west plant, under the stipulation that the company replaces them.
The permit, issued in July by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, expires in 2024. It allows Phase III to cover the wetlands with “clean fill,” which could include soil, rock, stone, used asphalt, brick, block or concrete from demolition or construction efforts, per the permit requirements.
After clean fill masks the wetlands — Colleen Connolly, DEP spokeswoman wrote via email — the company will be allowed to use regulated fill above the waterline. The permit requires the company to conduct inspections of best practices on a weekly basis and after each stormwater event.
Before bringing clean fill into the site, located at the Northface Business Park just off Route 248 near Palmerton, Phase III will inform DEP’s Waste Management Program of where the fill came from and provide soil results from its original site, the permit reads.
Phase III is also responsible for replacing 3.1 acres of wetlands, according to the permit.
The Times News reached out to Impact Environmental to ask where it plans to rebuild those wetlands, but has not received a response back.
The company would be responsible for monitoring the new wetlands for at least five years, the permit reads.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resource Conservation Service’s website says the process of creating wetlands differs depending on location and desired use. The potential wetlands’ size is also a factor.
Phase III project
Approval for the project comes after DEP issued, and later rescinded, a letter to Phase III, citing 37 “deficiencies” related to fill it had accepted. In December, the department extended Phase III’s original permit for one year.
Palmerton residents and officials have long voiced concerns about the development, specifically in regard to the alleged damage being caused by large vehicles trucking fill to and from Northface.
Palmerton Council told residents in January that the borough was citing overweight trucks but said ultimately, DEP is in charge of regulating Phase III.
“We weren’t even in this permitting business, or we would have had them post a bond on this whole thing,” Council President Terry Costenbader said in January.
“But this community and municipality had absolutely nothing to do with it.”
Northface has planned to eventually develop the remediated area into an industrial complex.