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Environmental Advocates Sue State DEQ Over Concerns Of Increased Pollutant Discharge In Greensboro Waterways

Haw River Drone
Gene Gallin
/
Unsplash
A bird's eye view of the 15-501 bridge over the Haw River in Pittsboro, NC. Environmental advocates claim an agreement between the state Department of Environmental Quality and the city of Greensboro allows the city to increase the amount of 1,4-dioxane discharged into the Haw River and the Cape Fear River Basin.

Environmental advocates are suing the state Department of Environmental Quality over a water agreement with the city of Greensboro.

The Southern Environmental Law Center claims the agreement allows Greensboro to increase the amount of 1,4-dioxane that's discharged into the Haw River and the Cape Fear River Basin. 1,4-dioxane is a toxic pollutant that can cause liver and kidney damage and increases the risk of cancer.

The lawsuit, filed April 9, alleges Greensboro can now discharge about 100 times more than what's allowed per state guidelines.

Geoff Gisler, a senior attorney with the Southern Environmental Law Center, says this agreement violates federal policies meant to protect drinking water.

"We're seeking to get this agreement, this special order by consent, thrown out. And what that will do is that — that's not going to fix the problem by itself — but what it will do is say to the agency that it needs to go back and do its job," said Gisler.

Emily Sutton, the Haw Riverkeeper, said in a press release that the river "has been threatened by ongoing industrial contamination by multiple sources for decades, leaving the ecosystems and the downstream communities that depend on it at risk."

The Cape Fear River Basin provides drinking water for nearly one million people in North Carolina.

WUNC's Laura Pellicer contributed to this report.

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