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Originally published May 1 2014

'Extremely high' levels of heavy metals, carcinogens found at NC recycling facility

by Jonathan Benson, staff writer

(NaturalNews) A Raleigh-based recycling facility has been cited for discharging contaminated water onto a neighbor's property and into nearby waterways and groundwater. A recent report by Indy Week explains how Raleigh Metal Recycling in North Carolina has been polluting not only its own site but also nearby land and water with high levels of lead, cadmium, mercury, nickel, copper, zinc and polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs.

A former junkyard for old cars, Raleigh Metal Recycling has reportedly been salvaging old scrap metal onsite since the 1960s, which the local Waste Management Division says is responsible for the ongoing contamination. According to reports, the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) became aware of the contamination issue back in 2007 and has supposedly been working ever since to rectify it.

But Raleigh Metal Recycling has ever since continued to dump the pollutants without penalty, where they are now emptying into local streams that feed the Neuse River Basin, a 248-mile river that is the longest in North Carolina. A recent complaint filed by a neighboring site impacted by the pollution led to the issuing of a violation notice by DENR's Division of Water Resources Raleigh Regional Office against the facility, but the issue is far from resolved.

State regulators drag feet in addressing heavy metal pollution problem

When information about ongoing contamination at the site was delivered to DENR last summer, the agency made arrangements to collect soil and water samples for testing. Back in January, samples were taken from four locations on the property, revealing "extremely high" concentrations of heavy metals and other toxins, all of which have been gradually seeping from the site.

Upon further investigation, it was revealed that polluted water from the site has been continuously flowing from the property through a small pipe that discharges into an unnamed tributary that feeds the Wildcat Branch stream. This stream is composed of surface water that flows in open air, fully accessible to the public.

City inspectors who were also sent to the site reported seeing polluted water "visibly contaminated with petroleum products and sediment" flowing directly from the property onto an adjacent property, the owner of which had contacted the city. Such dumping of contaminated waste is illegal in Raleigh, and the company was issued a citation last August for it.

Facility also cited for stormwater permit violations

But other violations, including the company's alleged failure to abide by its DENR-issued stormwater permit, have also been identified. The City of Raleigh reportedly hired an environmental services firm to test water samples collected from two outfalls on the site, both of which tested very high for PCBs. After evaluating these, the Division of Water Resources determined the company was in the wrong.

"It's a complicated violation," stated Danny Smith, the supervisor of Water Quality Operations at DENR's Raleigh Regional Office, to Indy Week. "There's lots of data and it just takes time to produce a violation notice and we have a lot of other issues going on."

Since being issued the two violations, Raleigh Metal Recycling has hired an engineering design firm to develop a stormwater management plan for the site to avoid further pollution. But Mark Senior, manager of Raleigh's stormwater program who recently viewed a draft of the plan, told reporters that it may not be adequate.

"We're working with all parties involved to do everything possible to get all the issues resolved," stated Greg Brown, the company's CEO, to Indy Week.

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