Community speaks out against power plant wastewater dumping

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BRUNSWICK COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — Dozens of community members came out to a public hearing in Brunswick County tonight over a power plant in Southport dumping wastewater and potential pollutants into the ocean.

CPI USA North Carolina, also known as Capital Power, has been in Southport since the 1980’s. However, it’s only recently come to light that the plant has been dumping wastewater into the ocean.

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“DEQ, do your job,” one resident said. “Protect us, don’t protect CPI.”

CPI has applied for a new permit with the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality to continue discharging wastewater and stormwater into the ocean near Caswell Beach.

But, according to the new permit application, CPI has begun dumping potentially hazardous coal ash since their permit was approved.



“This has to be monitored and kept an eye on,” another resident said, “and we’re relying on you people to keep us safe.”

The plant burns coal, wood and tires to produce electricity and steam. Some suggested CPI is not just polluting the ocean, but also the air.

“It smells like petrochemical, it could be tire residue, it could be creosote from the railroad ties,” an attendee said. “Whatever it is, if you smell something, you ingest whatever that is.”

“We recently had plants on our back porch, we have herbs, and we can’t use any of them because they’re constantly covered in black soot,” another said. “We’re raising kids here, and I ask you to look into this permit as if your kids were living within a mile of capital power.”

Others even offered solutions to the ash disposal dispute.

“The permit states only 17,000 gallons a year are discharged, and a typical full-size tanker truck is 11,000 gallons,” a resident said. “CPI USA should be required to capture the effluent and ship it via tanker truck to a disposal facility, similar to what Duke Energy is doing with their own coal ash.”

If you’d like to submit any comments in writing, you can email them to PublicComments@ncdenr.gov and include CPI in the email’s subject line, or mail them to the following address:

Derek Denard
NC Division of Water Resources
Water Quality Permitting Section
1617 Mail Service Center
Raleigh, NC 27699-1617

Written comments must be received by 5 p.m. on December 23. Written and oral comments are weighted the same.

The NCDEQ is expected to make a decision on CPI’s permit by late January.

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