by Keith T. Barber and Jordan Green

Riverkeeper intends to sue Alcoa for alleged Clean Water Act violations

Dean Naujoks, theYadkin Riverkeeper, has issued a 60-day notice to Alcoa that he intends to sue Alcoa for its alleged unlawful discharge of excess levels of cyanide, fluoride and polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs, into Badin Lake, according to a letter dated Jan. 19. Naujoks said under the auspices of the Clean Water Act, citizens have the right to take a polluter to court.

Alcoa has promised to remove the aluminum smelter at the old Badin Works site, but that does not adequately address the company’s toxic legacy, said Naujoks.

“They buried pot liners, they have numerous illegal landfills that for decades have been leaching cyanide and arsenic into the lake and there have also been PCBs discharged into the lake,” he said. “The bottom line is, water quality is getting worse. The PCBs are in the fish — things are not improving. They’re actually getting worse and that’s all been verified.”

Naujoks’ letter documents during water testing last year, that Alcoa exceeded its daily limit for discharge of cyanide by 264 percent. That violates the company’s National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System, or NPDES permit, Naujoks said. Alcoa spokesman Mike Belwood said the exceedance was the result of a pump failure, which was subsequently fixed. Belwood said it’s important to remember the company’s NPDES permit was developed after extensive consultation with state and federal regulators and contains limits that protect the environment.

“Over the last 10 years, we’ve had three exceedances,” Belwood said. “The work we are doing, while it’s not complete, has had a great impact on our water discharges. We have not had any further issues with respect that pump.”

Alcoa curtailed operations at its Badin Works facility in 2002. Naujoks’ letter states that the Yadkin Riverkeeper is putting Alcoa on notice in the hopes of spurring the NC Department of Environment and Natural Resources to action. In December, NC Sen. Stan Bingham (R-Davidson) requested that the Environmental Protection Agency conduct a criminal investigation of Alcoa for alleged violations of the Clean Water Act at its hydroelectric dams on the Yadkin River. — KTB

Roadwork contracts won by Winston-Salem and Greensboro outfits

The NC Department of Transportation has announced contracts totaling $159 million for bridge and roadwork, including 38.7 miles of road in Forsyth and Stokes counties to be handled by Larco Construction of Winston-Salem.

Larco Construction was also awarded a contract to resurface 31 miles of roadway in Davidson County. APAC-Atlantic of Greensboro won two contracts to complete roadwork projects in Randolph, Davie and Rowan counties. — JG