Wednesday, December 01, 2010

NC. agency revokes Alcoa water permit over withheld data

4:30 pm UPDATE: Gov. Bev Perdue issues statement on revocation of Alcoa permit:
We have learned through legal proceedings that Alcoa misled the state. Alcoa owes it to the people of North Carolina to provide accurate and complete information in order to protect the public’s health and safety. The justification for Alcoa’s license was the jobs that the company provided. Nearly all of those jobs are gone, as is the rationale for Alcoa’s original license. This is about the Yadkin River, a vital resource that belongs to the people of North Carolina.

Here's the original post from early this afternoon:

The key state agency regulating N.C. water quality says it is revoking a critical permit that Alcoa Power Generating INC needs in its bid for a federal license to continue operating hydroelectric power plants on the Yadkin River. Alcoa immediately announced it would fight the revocation. Where this leaves Alcoa's bid for another license like the one it has held for 50 years to operate four hydro generators on the river is unclear, but by law Alcoa cannot get a federal license from FERC without the permit, called a 401 certification.

The state's action came after some startling developments in an N.C. Office of Administrative Hearings procedure, when an Alcoa official evidently conceded there was information about dissolved oxygen content readings that the state did not know about.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources released this, in part, early this afternoon:

Officials with the N.C. Division of Water Quality today notified Alcoa Power Generating Inc. of the revocation of the company’s 401 water quality certification, issued in May 2009 for APGI’s Yadkin Hydroelectric Project in Stanly County.

This action is being taken after DWQ officials learned APGI submitted an incorrect application and supporting materials for the 401 water quality certification, in that the company intentionally withheld information on the project’s ability to meet the state’s water quality standards for dissolved oxygen. This intentional omission came to light after company e-mails were recently entered into evidence during a hearing before an administrative law judge involving Stanly County’s challenge to the issuance of the 401 water quality certification.

The Yadkin Hydroelectric Project includes High Rock, Tuckertown, Narrows – also known as Badin – and Falls reservoirs. DWQ officials believed at the time the certification was issued that APGI’s application for the certification and supporting documentation provided adequate assurance that the proposed activities would not result in a violation of state water quality standards and discharge guidelines.

(Alcoa can surrender the permit, or it can resubmit the application within 60 days with the errors corrected.)

Alcoa responded about the same time. Here's an excerpt:

New York, NY, Dec. 1, 2010 – Alcoa Power Generating Inc. is disappointed and surprised by the state’s plans to start proceedings to revoke the Yadkin Project’s 401 Water Quality Certificate and will immediately challenge the state’s effort, the company announced today.

The certificate, which lays out a plan for APGI’s Yadkin Project to meet water standards, was issued in 2009 by the North Carolina Division of Water Quality and is currently under appeal by APGI and other parties.

“Our team of experts developed a comprehensive plan to improve water quality and we are already seeing improvement,” said Rick Bowen, president of Alcoa Energy. “We do not believe the state’s decision is justified or appropriate.

“We believe that rather than continue litigation, it would be better to work together toward an outcome that protects the environment and promotes economic development and jobs for residents of North Carolina.”


Anonymous said...

We have learned through legal proceedings that Bev Perdue misled the state over campaign flights, fundraising, being "tough on crime", and other issues. Perdue owes it to the people of North Carolina to provide accurate and complete information in order to protect the public’s trust in the electoral process. The justification for Perdue's election was that she'd clean up state government. Nearly all of the public's respect for her is gone, as is the rationale for Perdue's election. This is about the Office of Governor, a vital resource that belongs to the people of North Carolina.

Steve said...

This "Wikileaks moment" doesn't seem to shed more light on the total issue. I still haven't figured out all the politics going on here.

I've seen lots of issues brought forth that might be important, but of dubious relevance to the dams themselves. Also, I wonder if there is any rational consideration, and not just an effort at appealing to emotions, in relating that the aluminum plant at Badin is closed. I mean, Duke Power doesn't make any aluminum that I'm aware of, and yet no one (at least publicly so far) has suggested that the state should take away their dams. Electricity can be used for lots of things these days, you know.

But mostly what I've not seen is any reason to believe that the State of North Carolina would be more competent at running the dams than the company that built them and has run them for 100 years.

Stephen said...


Maybe they'll finally be held accountable for the water quality.