Two companies based in Western North Carolina are guilty of releasing excessive pollutant levels into nearby waterways on multiple occasions, according to a report by the Frontier Group and the Environment North Carolina Research and Policy Center.
The report, titled “Troubled Waters: Industrial Pollution Still Threatens American Waterways,” cites Evergreen Paper Mill, based in Canton, Haywood County, and Baxter Healthcare Corporation, located in Marion, McDowell County, for exceeding their permit levels for pollutant releases several times from January 2016 to September 2017.
According to the report, Evergreen was cited on six different occasions in that time period for exceeding its permitted limits for effluent releases related to fecal coliform, total suspended solids, and biochemical oxygen demand levels in the already-impaired Pigeon River, including one instance where the company exceeded 500 percent (or 1.5 times) its permit limit.
Baxter Healthcare Corporation exceeded its permit limits related to biochemical oxygen demand, chemical oxygen demand and fecal coliform levels on five separate times in the same time period, per the report, including three instances where it topped 500 percent of its allowed limits while releasing into the North Fork of the Catawba River.
Frontier Group and ENCRPC warn that waterways across North Carolina and the country continue to face serious threats from industrial pollution, despite regulations set forth since the passage of the federal Clean Water Act in 1972.
Despite regulations at the federal and state level, “a closer look at compliance with and enforcement of the law reveals an overly lenient system that too often allows pollution without accountability,” write the report’s authors Elizabeth Berg, Hye-Jin Kim and John Rumpler. From Jan. 2016 to Sept. 2017, major industrial facilities across the country released pollution that exceeded federal limits more than 8,100 times, according to the report.
The report also notes that North Carolina is among several states listed as working with U.S. Environmental Protection Agency officials to complete their data reporting on effluent releases, according to The EPA’s ECHO/ICIS website.
The full Troubled Waters Report can be viewed at environmentnorthcarolina.org.