Victory for the Yadkin! ALCOA gives up on 401 water quality certification appeal

Alcoa Power Generating Inc. (APGI) announced that it has filed a motion for an order dismissing its appeal concerning the revocation of the 401 water quality certificate for the Yadkin Hydroelectric Project. In December 2010, Yadkin Riverkeeper and Stanly County prevailed in a lawsuit that led to the state revoking Alcoa’s 401 water quality certification. This is a big victory for everyone who depends on the Yadkin River, and particularly in Stanly County, who has been fighting for clean water and the return of the Yadkin River to the citizens of North Carolina. Alcoa had its water quality certificate revoked because they intentionally falsified data about their ability to comply with dissolved oxygen levels that are critical to the health of the entire river.

 At the time, Alcoa told the press and its supporters that emails presented as evidence at trial were misinterpreted and welcomed their day in court to prove the company did not mislead state officials about complying with dissolved oxygen.  Their reluctance to go to trial, scheduled for December 2012, is nothing short of an admission of guilt. For two years, they have drawn out this process in attempt to wear us down and make Stanly County spend more money only to prove what we uncovered at trial in December 2010.

Contrary to claims made by Alcoa, it should be noted that Alcoa remains non-compliant for dissolved oxygen at two of the four dams on the Yadkin River – at the High Rock and Tuckertown Reservoirs.   After decades of operating the dams out of compliance, Alcoa is still not meeting water quality standards for dissolved oxygen in a large portion of the Yadkin Project they currently operate, nor has the company adequately addressed PCB contamination or remediated at 44 hazardous waste sites that have created serious public health issues in the town of Badin, Badin Lake and further downstream. 

For over three years, we have been vigilant in our demands to have Alcoa clean up the contamination to secure their water quality certification and retain the license to operate the dams. Their current clean-up plans do not adequately address the dissolved oxygen levels, nor the public health issues linked to Alcoa’s PCB’s and the migration of PCB’s downstream through the Yadkin River dams. 

This issue is far from over. Alcoa plans to reapply for another 401 water quality certification. The state will have one year to deny, modify or issue a new 401 water quality certification. We believe that until Alcoa cleans up all of its contamination a certificate should not be granted to this habitual polluter that refuses to take responsibility for any of its actions.  The Yadkin River should be returned to its rightful owners, the people of North Carolina.  We want to thank everyone who has supported Yadkin Riverkeeper Inc. in this important fight.  

Division of Water Quality's Opposition to Motion to Dismiss

Alcoa Power Generating, Inc.
(Petitioner)
v.
Division of Water Quality of NC Department of Environment and Natural Resources (Respondent)
v.
Stanly County, North Carolina
(Respondent Intervenor)

ARTICLES ON THIS TOPIC:

Winston-Salem Journal,  "Alcoa to file new request on Yadkin Dams"
Salisbury Post,  "Alcoa seeks to dismiss Yadkin Project appeal, apply for new water quality certificate"
Lexington Dispatch, "Alcoa seeks to dismiss Yadkin Project appeal, reapply"
The Daily Reflector, "Alcoa takes new tack in fight for NC dams permit"

Cheers to Clean Water!
Dean Naujoks, Executive Director, and Yadkin Riverkeeper Staff