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Holding polluters accountable

On March 10th, on behalf of Winyah Rivers Alliance, the Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC) sued to stop Active Energy Renewable Power and Lumberton Energy Holdings (Active Energy) from illegally polluting the Lumber River in violation of the Clean Water Act.

This action follows our December 10th, 2020 notice to Active Energy that its unpermitted discharges of industrial pollutants into the Lumber River and its tributaries must stop. We are now holding the company accountable to ensure compliance with the Clean Water Act. The complaint outlines concerns regarding unpermitted discharges in the Lumber River and its tributary, Jacob’s Branch, from Active Energy’s property contaminated with toxic solvents in Lumberton, NC.

For almost two years, Active Energy has been violating laws that help keep the waters of our designated wild and scenic Lumber River safe and clean,” said our Lumber Riverkeeper, Jefferson Currie II. “By refusing to even submit a wastewater permit application, this company is showing the community and our members how little it cares about the health and safety of the anglers, swimmers, boaters – everyone who lives in Lumberton and Robeson County.”

Discharge monitoring reports filed by the company with EPA and the North Carolina Division of Water Resources show unpermitted water discharges of pollutants from Active Energy’s current operations. These include suspended solids, nitrogen, zinc, copper, and chromium, some of which can harm fish and other aquatic life in the river.

In the absence of the required permit, the company can store wastewater on site, sell it, or store it off-site, but it cannot pollute the Lumber River without a lawful permit to monitor for and limit toxic pollutants that are present on its contaminated Brownfield property and could be discharged into the Lumber River and its tributary, Jacob’s Branch.

Despite plans to start manufacturing wood pellets at the contaminated site in early 2021, Active Energy does not have the required Clean Water Act permit for its ongoing industrial wastewater discharges and is operating in violation of the law. Future planned mill operations will only increase its wastewater discharges. The company holds no permit authorizing either its present or future wastewater discharges.

The area of the Lumber River immediately downstream of Active Energy’s unpermitted discharges is a state and federally designated scenic river due to its unique natural, recreation, fish and wildlife, and cultural values.

By not applying for the required permit, Active Energy failed to demonstrate that its operations will not harm the Lumber River and has also denied us, our members, and the interested community the opportunity to participate in the permitting process.

Our primary goal is to make sure Active Energy obtains proper permit coverage for its ongoing wastewater discharges, that the Lumber River is protected to the fullest extent of the law, and that the people who use and enjoy the river are protected from excess pollution that may be caused by Active Energy’s illegal wastewater discharges.

Read the press release here>>

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Winyah Rivers Alliance

P.O. Box 554 | 301 Allied Drive
Conway, SC 29528
843 .349 .4007
winyahrivers@winyahrivers.org

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