About

Who are we?

Save Blounts Creek is a group of individuals and organizations that have come together to stop the wastewater discharge from a new limestone mine that threatens the ecosystem of the creek.

 

This website offers a platform for news and information for supporters of our cause. Currently, the group is challenging the legality of the wastewater-discharge permit issued by the North Carolina Division of Water Resources. We are looking to the legal system to uphold the Clean Water Act.

 

What is Blounts Creek?

Nestled among tree-filled wetlands, Blounts Creek is a 14-mile-long blackwater coastal waterway within the Tar-Pamlico River basin. It begins as a slow-flowing freshwater, acidic stream narrow enough for any kid to jump across. About halfway along its length, the creek begins to turn salty and to reach 40 feet deep or more in some places. Blounts Creek is a fishing hot-spot that draws not only anglers, but also boaters and photographers from across the state and region.

 

The creek is a highly productive nursery and habitat for numerous fresh and saltwater fish species, including red drum, river herring, striped bass, speckled trout and shad.

 

How is it threatened? 

The Martin Marietta Company, an international supplier of building materials based in Raleigh, NC, has proposed to develop a 50-year 649-acre limestone mine within the Blounts Creek watershed. In order to extract the limestone, groundwater will have to be pumped from the mine-pit and about 12 million gallons per day of this water, mingled with stormwater, would be discharged into the headwaters of the creek. Technical memos submitted by Martin Marietta’s own consultants demonstrated that the proposed wastewater-discharge would disrupt the aquatic environment and the species inhabiting it. The surge of water would transform the swampy headwater habitat into a fast-flowing stream consisting primarily of mine wastewater, permanently altering the creek’s diversity of life and abundant fish habitat.

 

Recent Actions

Sound Rivers (formerly Pamlico-Tar River Foundation) and their members along with the NC Coastal Federation challenged Martin Marietta’s permit. Unfortunately, we received a decision from a new administrative law judge dismissing our challenge. The judge’s ruling stated that no citizen, downstream resident or business has the right under state law to seek enforcement of water quality protections. This decision disregards well-established state and federal laws that allow citizens who live downstream to protect our creeks and rivers when the government fails to do so.

 

In April, we filed an appeal of this ruling. There will be a hearing held in Beaufort County Superior Court the week of September 14th. We will keep you updated with any new information.

 

Additional Information

Below are links to more information about the proposed mine and its impacts.

 

NC Division of the Environment and Natural Resources Website 

NC Division of Marine Fisheries Comments

National Marine Fisheries Service’s Comments

NC Wildlife Resources Commission’s Comments

Pamlico-Tar River Foundation 

EPA Letter

 

Here is a summary of the EPA’s comments:

  1. EPA has determined that the draft permit does not ensure compliance with water quality standards.
  2. Federal regulations require a “reasonable potential analysis” to determine if the receiving waters, in this case Blounts
    Creek, would be able to handle the discharge without violating water quality standards (in other words, without causing harm to the stream system, determined by a set of numeric and narrative standards).
  3. EPA has asked DWR to go back and analyze the discharge again, especially for iron, turbidity (water clarity or muddiness of the water) and pH.
  4. Recommends that effluent limitations (what the company can legally discharge – example: levels of iron or sediment) are as stringent as necessary to meet the water quality standards.
  5. EPA would like the permit to include whole effluent toxicity limits. Testing for this replicates the actual environmental exposure of aquatic life to toxic pollutants in a wastewater effluent.
  6. EPA should re-evaluate the draft limit for pH and may need to revise the limit (to more closely reflect the natural, acidic characteristics of the stream).
  7. EPA has also requested an additional 15 days of review of any revised draft permit as well as DWR’s response to EPA’s comments.

Comments

Phyllis T Daw

Why would the State of NC allow a corporation to destroy a creek such as Blounts Creek? Why would a judge say citizens have no right to challenge the State’s decision in this matter? Sad state of affairs in NC.

Reply

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