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Problems continue at site of Lumberton’s planned wood pellet facility

On August 11, 2020, on behalf of Winyah Rivers Alliance, the Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC) sent a notice of intent to sue to Active Energy Renewable Power (AERP) for discharging industrial stormwater from its sawmill without having a permit required by the Clean Water Act. Within a week of receiving our notice letter, AERP applied for the required stormwater discharge permit, and on September 21st, the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality (N.C. DEQ) issued the permit. Under North Carolina law, these types of permits do not go out for public notice or comments. 

While we are pleased that the company has received a stormwater permit, further investigation revealed that AERP is illegally discharging pollutants into the Lumber River from its property contaminated with toxic solvents without the proper permit.

On December 10, 2020, on behalf of Winyah Rivers Alliance, SELC once again notified AERP that its unpermitted discharges of industrial pollutants into the Lumber River and its tributaries must stop. If AERP does not obtain a required permit within 60 days or otherwise remedy these ongoing violations, Winyah Rivers Alliance is prepared to hold the company accountable and ensure compliance with the Clean Water Act by going to federal court.

The primary goal of our most recent notice letter is to make sure AERP 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 AERP’s illegal wastewater discharges.

In addition, we remain concerned about the future wastewater discharges that are anticipated to result once AERP starts operating the wood pellet facility. Before any pellet manufacturing begins, AERP must submit a new permit application for the on-site wastewater treatment plant, and undergo a full review by N.C. DEQ’s Division of Water Resources. Recent statements by AERP’s parent company—UK company, Active Energy Group—indicate that AERP plans to start construction on the wood pellet facility in January, with operations set to begin in Spring 2021.

The wastewater permitting process will give Winyah Rivers Alliance and the interested public the opportunity to submit comments and suggestions to N.C. DEQ’s Division of Water Resources and make a renewed push for a full environmental justice evaluation of the proposed pellet manufacturing plant. It has been a long and tough journey to this point, but there is still more to be done, so we remain committed to voicing our concerns and objections as the process continues.

Read our previous blog 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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