Badin Lake neighbors win the battle, but the war against contamination continues

North Carolina

STANLY COUNTY, N.C. (FOX 46 CHARLOTTE)- The North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality has rejected a proposal by Badin Business Park, a subsidiary of Alcoa, to reroute hazardous waste discharge from a point in Little Mountain Creek to a point in Badin Lake.

Opponents to the proposal feared the rerouting would increase the levels of cyanide, and other harmful chemicals, in Badin Lake. While state and federal regulations allow for minimal levels of chemicals to be present in water, the concern was that levels would be harmful to both humans and the environment.

Alcoa’s aluminum smelting plant operated in West Badin from 1917-2007. The physical structure is still there along with waste that was buried during the time the plant was functional.

The issue was how and where the waste was disposed, prior to regulations being enacted. Now that there are environmental standards on how hazardous waste is handled, Alcoa is making efforts to comply.

Prior to this decision residents of Badin Lake banned together, forming the group “Protect Badin Lake” and created a petition which has garnered over 3,000 signatures. 

Jen Caldwell, a Protect Badin Lake organizer is relieved by the decision but intends to stay engaged in the effort.

“We are concerned now.” Adding, “our ultimate goal is for Alcoa to remove the tons of contamination they have buried over there.”

According to Edgar Miller, Executive Director of Yadkin Riverkeeper Alcoa has over 40 sites buried with hazardous solid waste and is unsure of what will happen next.

“This is a very confusing situation because we don’t know what the state’s next move is going to be.” However, Miller did say the various discharge points in the Badin Lake water body had to be tested so the chemical levels could be ascertained.

As for Alcoa, they did provide this statement: 

“Badin Lake is a special place, and we know how much it means to the community. While our proposal would have ensured compliance with all regulations and would have been well within the limits to protect human health and the environment, we will work with local residents and the NC Department of Environmental Quality regarding the next steps in this process. Alcoa has been part of the Badin community for generations, and we are committed to fulfilling our environmental responsibilities and engaging with our stakeholders to find solutions.”

To view the petition, click here.

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