News | March 30, 2015

Court approves destruction of popular North Carolina fishing creek

A state administrative court has denied downstream residents and business owners represented by SELC the right to challenge a permit that would allow a mining company to destroy a popular fishing creek in Eastern North Carolina.

SELC was challenging a North Carolina permit issued to Martin Marietta that would allow a 649-acre open-pit limestone mine to discharge 12 million gallons of water each day into the slow-moving headwaters of Blounts Creek, a pristine tributary of the Pamlico River in Beaufort County. The discharges will overwhelm the creek, transforming the swampy headwater habitat into a fast-flowing stream consisting primarily of mine wastewater—a clear violation of the Clean Water Act. The plan would permanently alter the creek’s diversity of life and abundance of high quality habitat for fish such as red drum, speckled trout, and the imperiled river herring.

Although the court agreed the permit will destroy the unique habitat of Blounts Creek, the ruling disregarded well-established state and federal laws allowing citizens who live downstream to protect our creeks when the state fails to do so—despite the availability of less damaging alternatives for handling the mine’s wastewater.

SELC and our partners challenging the destructive permit, Pamlico-Tar River Foundation and the N.C. Coastal Federation, are currently reviewing the decision and determining next steps.  

Read the press release here.