News | December 29, 2017

Court order prevents mine wastewater from flooding Blounts Creek, N.C.

A state court vacated a state permit that would have allowed a proposed Martin Marietta mine to discharge millions of gallons of wastewater every day into a popular fishing creek in eastern North Carolina, flooding it. SELC fought the North Carolina Division of Water Resources’ permit on behalf of Sound Rivers and the North Carolina Coastal Federation.

The conservation groups argued the state permit failed to protect the waters of Blounts Creek, which provide vital habitat to a diverse community of fish—including red drum and river herring—and is beloved by fishermen and women and nature lovers across the state.

“This court decision is a victory for the people, affirming citizens’ right to protect the waters we love and use every day when our state fails to do so,” said Senior Attorney Geoff Gisler. “We’re pleased the court overturned the permit that violated the core requirement of the Clean Water Act: to protect our waters as they exist naturally. The community that uses Blounts Creek deserves the protection the law provides, as affirmed by this court decision.”

As part of its plans to develop a 649-acre open pit mine outside Vanceboro in Beaufort County, N.C., Martin Marietta planned to pump up to 12 million gallons of wastewater into Blounts Creek’s headwaters daily. Martin Marietta’s mine discharge would transform the swampy, slow moving headwater habitat into a fast-flowing stream consisting primarily of mine wastewater, permanently altering the creek’s diversity of fish and abundance of high quality fish habitat.