The Old Copper Plant Revisited – Corrections to a Previous Column

I mentioned a while ago that I had received a call from Buddy Haynes, who is doing business as Copperhill Industries. He described himself as having bought Intertrade, the recent successor to the Tennessee Copper Company. He called to correct some inaccuracies in one of my recent postings (July 15, 2017) where I said that the site was the largest superfund site in the southeast, and that to the best of my knowledge, the company still had a valid sulphuric acid permit (in spite of having sold the sulphuric acid plant to a Brazilian concern).

Mr. Haynes began by questioning my characterization of the site as the largest superfund site, saying that the sites weren’t really ranked, and there were other large superfund sites in the southeast. He continued by saying that I was mistaken in my belief that Intertrade was operating under a consent decree, saying that Occidential Petroleum – which was, along with Intertrade, one of the potentially responsible parties – voluntarily entered into an agreement to clean up the site through their environmental division, Glenn Springs Holdings.

But I believe his main point was that he no longer has an acid permit. He said that all those permits were expired, and that he doubted the state would reissue them. In addition, he pointed out that besides there being no acid plant on the site, there were now no tanks to store acid in, as those tanks have been removed.

Copperhill Industries is engaged in the reclamation and recycling of industrial byproducts, notably calcine and copper slag. Mr. Haynes acknowledged that he has what he called a dust permit, because these activities require digging and loading. But he said he no longer even had a storm water permit, because all the runoff was now going into the treatment plant.

We talked about something that comes up in the real estate business, which is the fact that for a large area around Copperhill – including Campbell Creek Cove – the mineral rights are owned by Cities Services. Mr. Haynes said that Cities Services was bankrupt and that Intertrade ought to be the successor company to Cities Services.

In something that I thought was very interesting, Mr. Haynes said that he had an agreement with the EPA that if he didn’t add any pollution to the site, that he would not be liable for cleanup of previous pollution. He said that was a change from the way that the EPA did business in the past, and it certainly is. Previously, any owner of the site would have been considered a potentially responsible party, even if he had never operated on the site. (In fact, that was the case with Occidental Petroleum.)

Mr. Haynes characterized his activities as removing pollution, and he implied that people ought to be happy about that. And he pointed to the progress Glenn Springs Holdings has made in cleaning up the site. (That’s undeniable, because the Ocoee River, which was dead to aquatic life for some 100 years, now has fish.)

I’m grateful to Mr. Haynes for his call, and I hope that I’ve gotten the story straight. I’ll be emailing him a link to this column and asking for any comments or corrections that he may have.

In terms of my real estate practice, I think the bottom line for my clients is the same as it always has been. Anyone considering a purchase in the Copperhill/McCaysville/Ducktown/Campbell Cove area should inform him or herself about the situation and make a decision about whether it is right for them and their families.

For background, here’s a link to an article in the Times Free Press.

The Times Free Press, a Chattanooga paper, provides the best coverage of this area, at least since the demise of the Polk County News.

Here is a link to the Copperhill Industries website.

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