Permit application hearing set for GM battery-cell plant

LORDSTOWN — A meeting is set for the public to comment on an environmental permit General Motors is seeking for a planned battery-cell manufacturing plant.

The water quality certification permit from the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency is among critical hurdles the automaker and its joint venture partner, South Korea’s LG Chem, need to clear to build the $2.3 billion facility.

Part of the Ohio EPA’s permit review process, the meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. March 12 at Lordstown High School.

Copies of the application and technical support information are available online at epa.ohio.gov/dsw/401/permitting.aspx.

The Ohio EPA will accept written comments through March 19 by email, epa.dswcomments@epa.ohio.gov, or in writing to Ohio EPA-DSW, Attention: Permits Processing Unit, P.O. Box 1049, Columbus, Ohio 43216.

GM announced Jan. 14 it has a signed purchase agreement with North Point Development near Kansas City, Mo., for 158 acres of property for the plant on Tod Avenue adjacent to and immediately east of its former Lordstown assembly plant.

The automaker filed the permit application with the sate Jan. 10 on behalf of GigaPower LLC, the working name for the joint venture that still needs regulatory approval. A public notice of the application and meeting states discharges from the construction would result in the lowering of the water quality of the Mud Creek Watershed.

GM also has filed an environmental permit with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers under the federal Clean Water Act that requires a permit for discharges of dredge or fill material into waters of the U.S.

It goes hand-in-hand with the state waiver. According to Scott Hans, regulatory division chief for the Corps of Engineers’ Pittsburgh District, any discharges that require permission under the federal law must be complaint with Ohio’s water quality standards and the state must issue water quality certification in regard to those standards for the federal authorization to be valid.

“In short, neither authorization is valid without the other, and neither has to be issued before the other, but both must be received before the fills may be placed,” Hans said.

Review of the federal requests typically takes 45 to 120 days, but may vary based on impacts and comments received during the review process, he said.

The corps of engineers is accepting comments through Feb. 15. Comments should be directed to the Regulatory Division, attention Matthew Gilbert, 1000 Liberty Ave., Pittsburgh, Pa. 15222, by calling 412-395-7189, or by email at matthew.c.gilbert@usace.army.mil. Refer to CELRP-RG 2019-1080 in all responses.

GM wants to break ground on the site in April with completion expected by January 2022. The facility will create more than 1,100 jobs and has been billed to be, when complete, among the largest battery-cell manufacturing facilities in the world.