Proposal for cyanide in Badin Lake fought back by residents
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Plans to pump Cyanide and Fluoride into a lake in Stanly County has some residents fighting back and winning. Badin Lake is a popular spot for fishing, boating and other recreation but it also sits next to an old plant that used to bring jobs and residents worry still pollutes the environment.
Macey Hinson used to be an employee at the Alcoa Plant.
“I did start there at an early age and the more work there and saw the things that they were doing to make aluminum and their materials,” Hinson said.
By the time the plant closed down he was a staunch opponent of what it had left behind.
“It’s still there. The trash stuff is still there. The plant site is still there with all of these pollutants,” Hinson said.
The story of Badin Lake and Alcoa is a mix of old and new. Jen Caldwell is part of the new.
“Their proposal was to divert to storm drain and dump it directly into the lake,” Caldwell said.
Caldwell was a relatively new resident on the Lake when she read about a proposal for the shuttered plant, now called Badin Business Park, to start pumping cyanide and fluoride into the lake in hopes that it would dilute.
Caldwell formed a group called Protect Badin Lake that sent hundreds of letters about the proposal to the North Carolina Division of Environmental Quality.
“We did win that battle. The SOC was denied,” Caldwell said.
“Nobody knows what their next proposal is going to be, but what we expressed to the state legislators yesterday is any proposal that takes any stormwater drain and empties it into the lake is not It is not acceptable,” Caldwell said.
In a statement sent to WBTV a spokesperson for Badin Business Park wrote “We are working closely with technical experts and the NC Department of Environmental Quality to look for alternative solutions and meeting with stakeholders to listen to their feedback and concerns. We are confident that the site does not pose any threat to the environment or the health of the community.”
Hinson has seen this story play out. He formed the Concerned Citizens for West Badin group. Even before this new permit request Alcoa had allowed unlawful amounts of cyanide and fluoride to Little Mountain Creek on other occasions.
The history of Badin, he says is divided into East and West. White and Black.
“I couldn’t join the country club, not because I didn’t know how to play, but because I was black. I couldn’t get in the fire department that puts out fires all over the neighborhood because I was black and that hurts when you start thinking about it, how deep it goes,” Hinson said.
West Badin is where Alcoa dumped its waste, that according to the Southern Environmental Law Center, threatens the health of his neighborhood by “causing significant groundwater and surface water
Contamination. Waste that Hinson still wants tested by an independent contractor, not someone hired by Alcoa.
Last week, Caldwell and Hinson met with state legislators and other lawmakers in Raleigh, hoping to finally draw more attention to this issue.
NCDEQ is now doing its own testing at Badin Lake, after years of Alcoa hiring its own consultant to do the testing.
But Hinson says more than just the lake needs to be examined.
“I think it needs to be independent study rather than than Alcoa driving the whole thing,” Hinaon said.
Hinson is just hoping that something is done sooner rather than later.
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