Stanly County citizens and their environmental allies gained a hard-won victory today when state environmental officials signed a deal with Carolina Solite for the company to give up its permit to burn hazardous waste. The eleven year battle between citizens and the toxic polluter isn’t over, since the State apparently will allow the company to continue burning used motor oil and coal to fuel its cement/aggregate kilns.
Stanly Citizens Opposed to Toxic Chemical Hazards (SCOTCH), NC WARN and Clean Water Fund of NC haven’t seen the agreement yet, but they note that this is certainly a major step forward – assuming the State can hold Solite to the deal. The State has been unable to enforce previous attempts to get North Carolina’s only commercial toxic waste incinerator into compliance with pollution laws, but today’s announcement goes further than any previous arrangement.
“It’s been a long, hard struggle,” said SCOTCH President Joann Almond. “We’re elated at this important step forward, but we are not going to let the State or Solite off the hook.” The groups have increasingly uncovered damaging evidence of Solite’s practices and of the State’s reluctance to enforce pollution laws. “Solite and the State know they’re in trouble, with upcoming environmental testing and increasing local and statewide awareness of this shameful situation,” said Almond.
The groups pointed out that the State relieved Solite of over $100,000 in pending penalties in order to get the deal. Almond noted that giving up so much money effectively took money from Stanly County school children because, in North Carolina, such pollution fines are supposed to be remitted to the local school systems.
The groups also complained that the deal would apparently allow Solite to continue to operate out of compliance with pollution laws for an extended period. They expressed grave concern with the apparent plan to let the company keep burning dirty fuel. The groups will continue to watchdog this unique toxic polluter and the State; they are convinced that Solite cannot comply with NC Air Toxics regulations at its decrepit, 47 year old plant which uses substandard pollution control equipment. Burning coal and used motor oil would continue the release of toxic pollutants, and contribute to greenhouse emissions and the statewide ozone problem.
“A handful of dedicated Stanly County people – especially Joann Almond – brought the State and one of the nation’s largest hazardous waste companies to its knees in North Carolina,” said NC WARN Director Jim Warren. “It would have been nice if the State had stopped this notorious polluter years ago before it dumped a massive amount of toxic chemicals onto the community – but sometimes democracy takes longer to work.”