agriculture, Environment

Another bad actor discharging into the Cape Fear River: Cargill fined $75K

Cargill discharges into Lock’s Creek, which flows into the Cape Fear River about a mile downstream. (Screenshot Google maps)

The Cape Fear River is again a casualty of industrial pollution and urban runoff, this time because of illegal and unknown discharges from Cargill, which processes and distributes soybeans and their byproducts in Fayetteville.

The Environmental Protection Agency has fined the $100 billion company $75,500 in civil penalties as part of a proposed consent agreement that outlines Cargill’s 30-plus violations of the Clean Water Act.

Among them are missing records and sampling data, illegal spills at the plant, lax inspections, and exceedances of several pollutants as set out in the discharge permit.

When the plant did report its data, the stormwater contained high levels of acidity, particle matter (known as Total Suspended Solids in pollution parlance), and Chemical Oxygen Demand.

In at least one incident, plant officials wrongly blamed the excessive acidity of stormwater on acid rain. And instead of using scientific equipment to test for acidity, plant officials used a paper pH strip.

COD is important because it indicates the amount of organic material, in this case, mostly likely food waste and oils, in the water. Excessive amounts of COD contribute to the formation of toxic algae and kill aquatic organisms, essentially by consuming the oxygen in the water.

In at least one incident, plant officials wrongly blamed the excess acidity of stormwater on acid rain. Click To Tweet

Cargill discharges into Lock’s Creek, a tributary of the Cape Fear River. The company’s plant on Underwood Road lies about 25 miles north of Chemours, responsible for discharging the contaminant GenX into the Cape Fear River.

The violations were found during a joint inspection by the EPA and state environmental officials in February 2016. The discharge permit, issued in 2012, expires in October.

The public can comment on the proposed consent agreement through Sept. 20. Send comments in writing to the Regional Hearing Clerk at U.S. EPA, Atlanta Federal Center, 61 Forsyth Street, S.W., Atlanta, Georgia, 30303. Include the Public Notice Number CWA-04-2017-4510(b).

 

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