Siler City wastewater treatment plant racks up more fines, files for Special Order by Consent

An aerial view of the Siler City wastewater treatment plant (Photo: Town of Siler City)

An aerial view of the Siler City wastewater treatment plant (Photo: Town of Siler City)

The NC Department of Environmental Quality has fined the Siler City wastewater treatment plant another $36,000 related to Clean Water Act violations the facility incurred in March, according to state documents, bringing the total to $154,000 in penalties over the past two years.

As Policy Watch reported last month, the town’s wastewater treatment plant is overwhelmed by discharge from the Mountaire poultry processing facility. The slaughterhouse sends extremely high amounts of nitrogen and ammonia to the plant, which then discharges into Loves Creek, a tributary of the Rocky River. Portions of those waterways are on the federal impaired list; aquatic biologists have also spotted sick and dying fish just downstream of the wastewater treatment plant.

Siler City is responsible for regulating its industrial dischargers, like Mountaire. DEQ issues discharge permits to, and regulates, wastewater treatment plants.

The recent fine stems from eight separate violations, including exceedances of Total Nitrogen as much as 129%. Total Suspended Solids — the quantity of particles in water that are large enough to be trapped by a filter — were over the regulatory standard by 312%. DEQ assessed the town $10,000 for failing in its “duty to mitigate.”

Since the March incidents, the wastewater treatment plant has also amassed four more violations, according to the EPA. These include Total Nitrogen levels at 207% above the limit and cadmium concentrations at 43% higher than legally allowed.

According to state documents, DEQ does not believe Siler City is violating the law “willfully or intentionally.” However, “there is ample evidence that negligence has occurred across multiple program areas,” DEQ wrote.

Last week, on the same day that Wolfspeed announced it would build a new silicon carbide factory in Siler City, bringing with it 1,800 new jobs, the town applied with DEQ for a Special Order by Consent,  also known as an SOC, according to an agency spokesperson. The planned Chatham County-Siler City megasite will also strain the capacity of the wastewater treatment plant unless it is upgraded.

Policy Watch requested the application, but DEQ has yet to provide it.

An SOC is a legal agreement between the state and a facility that can’t consistently comply with the terms, conditions, or limitations in its permit. However, SOCs can only be issued if the non-compliance is because of plant design or infrastructure. Siler City plans to upgrade its wastewater treatment plant by early 2025, although those improvements are already 18 months behind schedule.

Load More Related Articles
Load More By Lisa Sorg
Load More In agriculture

Top Stories from NCPW

  • News
  • Commentary

Hawaii Sen. Brian Schatz is trying to cut a last minute deal that could bring tens… [...]

For the third year in a row, Decarcerate Now NC will host a vigil outside the… [...]

Tillis and Burr 'aye' votes help assure measure could not be filibustered WASHINGTON — The U.S.… [...]

Early voting in the U.S. Senate runoff got off to a busy start in Georgia, with… [...]

U.S. Marine vet from North Carolina: Congress should pass the Afghan Adjustment Act ASAP More than… [...]

It’s an age-old, chicken and egg discussion: Is it extant societal forces of exclusion, hatred and… [...]

The post At the corner of Partisan and Politics appeared first on NC Policy Watch. [...]

Maybe the change was an inevitable byproduct of our current charged and contentious era. Maybe it… [...]


You may republish this article online or in print under our Creative Commons license. You may not edit or shorten the text, you must attribute the article to The Pulse and you must include the author’s name in your republication.

If you have any questions, please email [email protected]


Creative Commons License AttributionCreative Commons Attribution
Siler City wastewater treatment plant racks up more fines, files for Special Order by Consent