Public hearings on Yadkin River contamination set for this week
Posted May 12, 2013
Updated May 13, 2013
Albemarle, N.C. — Public hearings are scheduled for this week about water quality and public health issues relating to aluminum company Alcoa Inc., which once operated a smelter facility on the Yadkin River in western North Carolina.
A hearing Monday in Albemarle has to do with studies by the North Carolina Department of Public Health on contamination linked to Alcoa at Badin Lake in the Stanly County town of Badin.
The company operated the smelter for decades, during which dangerous chemicals, such as PCBs, cyanide and fluorides, were disposed of that have contaminated the soil and water in the area.
Alcoa closed the smelter several years ago but still operates four hydroelectric dams that once provided power to the facility. The company now sells the electricity on the open market.
A second hearing in Albemarle on Tuesday by the state Department of Environment and Natural Resources has to do with an application by Alcoa for state water quality certification.
The certification is required for the company to renew its federal license to continue running for another 50 years the dams at High Rock, Tuckertown, Narrows and Falls reservoirs on the Yadkin River. The stretch of water crosses Davie, Davidson, Rowan, Montgomery and Stanly counties.
Last week, Stanly County commissioners voted to end efforts to block the certification in exchange for $3 million and 20 acres for a potential water treatment plant
Former Gov. Beverly Perdue fought Alcoa's efforts to renew the license, saying the battle was about the need to control a key water source for one of the country's largest and fastest-growing states and the chance to attract companies to one of North Carolina's job-scarce regions by offering low-cost electricity.
New Gov. Pat McCrory hasn't taken a stand on the issue.