Nov 08, 2019

Burlington, N.C. Wastewater Treatment Plants Being Sued for PFAS Pollution

The Southern Environmental Law Center issued a notice with the intent to sue Burlington, N.C. for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) pollution in Haw River and Jordan Lake.

The Southern Environmental Law Center issued a notice with the intent to sue Burlington, N.C. for per- and polyfluoroalkyl (PFAS) pollution in Haw River and Jordan Lake.

The Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC) intends to sue the city of Burlington, N.C. for its undisclosed per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) pollution, according to a press release

Testing shows discharges of 1,4-dioxane and PFAS from the city’s two wastewater treatment plants into the Haw River and Jordan Lake. The notice letter cites violations of the Clean Water Act and the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act. 

“Families in Pittsboro and other downstream communities deserve to know that the water that comes out of their taps is safe” said Geoff Gisler, senior attorney at the SELC. “The Haw River is an incredible resource; stopping this preventable pollution will take us one step closer to making it as clean as it is beautiful.”

Both plants accept waste from industrial facilities, including textile manufacturing facilities and a metal finishing facility, reported the notice. From 2016 to 2018, Burlington land-applied more than 11,000 tons of sludge from these wastewater treatment plants near Cane Creek, which drains into the Haw River, as well as other locations. Neither of the treatment plants are equipped to remove PFAS or 1,4-dioxane from wastewater or sludge. 

The city has 60 days after receiving the notice to stop its discharge of waste into rivers and the spread sludge on fields near waterways, according to the notice.

These compounds are known to be harmful to human health,” said Haw Riverkeeper Emily Sutton. “Downstream drinking water users have been exposed to contaminated drinking water for years. It's time to stop the pollution at the source and protect all downstream users and the ecological integrity of the Haw River basin.” 

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