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N.C. Water Rights Committee

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NCWRC Applauds Yadkin Riverkeeper for Calling Alcoa to Clean Up N.C. Pollution

Raleigh, NC, February 08, 2009 --( The N.C. Water Rights Committee ( is applauding a recent press release by the Yadkin Riverkeeper calling for Alcoa Power Generating Inc. (Alcoa) to take measures to clean up existing contamination at Badin Lake before the multinational firm receives another 50-year license to operate dams at High Rock, Tuckertown, Narrows and Falls Reservoirs, also known as the Yadkin Hydroelectric Project. Dean Naujoks, the Yadkin Riverkeeper, wrote in the release that after reviewing reports on the history of pollution at Badin Lake, which flows into the Yadkin via the Narrows Dam in Stanly County, he concluded that “I believe that Alcoa is responsible for much of the contamination at Badin Lake and therefore must be required to clean it up if the corporation wants a license for exclusive use of generating hydroelectric power on the Yadkin River.”

Naujoks said he was concerned that available data clearly indicate that Badin Lake and the area downstream have significant human, health and ecological problems that are and will continue to be affected by Alcoa’s dam operations. Also disturbing him was the fact that Alcoa discharged pollutants into the air and/or county lands and waterways during the operation of its smelter at Badin Lake from 1916 through 2002. The known contaminants include cyanide, fluoride, PCBs, solvents, metals, hydrocarbons, benzene, naphthalene and methane.

Naujoks concluded that “Until Alcoa addresses and resolves this contamination issue in a timely manner, my organization cannot in good faith support Alcoa’s relicensing effort because of my concerns about its effects on the water quality of the Yadkin River.”

The Yadkin Riverkeeper’s mission is to respect, protect and improve the Yadkin Pee Dee River Basin through education, advocacy and action. The program is part of the Waterkeeper Alliance, an international grassroots advocacy organization dedicated to protecting and preserving water from polluters. Naujoks was appointed Yadkin Riverkeeper this fall.

The N.C. Water Rights Committee appreciates the Yadkin Riverkeeper’s statement in support of one of the group’s key concerns. The committee has raised questions about Alcoa’s commitment to respecting the Yadkin River in regard to its history of environmental contamination connected to the firm’s now-defunct smelter in Badin. The committee believes Alcoa’s failure to properly identify all contamination sites and say when it will clean them up indicates it will not be the best steward for the Project if it receives a 50-year license from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).

Currently Alcoa needs a 401 Water Quality Certification from the N.C. Division of Water Quality (DWQ) along with the FERC license in order to continue to operate the four dams in the Yadkin Hydroelectric Project. If Alcoa receives both, it will have exclusive water rights to conduct hydroelectric operations on the upper Yadkin River for 50 years, and the opportunity to make millions in profits selling electricity both inside and outside the state.

The N.C. Water Rights Committee is urging those that are concerned about the environmental degradation caused by Alcoa’s use of the public’s water to submit comments to the N.C. Division of Water Quality (DWQ). The N.C. Division of Water Quality is scheduled to announce its decision on March 16. The general public may submit comments to DWQ in response to Alcoa’s 401 request by e-mail or written comments.

Comments in response to Alcoa’s 401 request may be sent via e-mail to John Dorney, the Supervisor for North Carolina Division of Water Quality's 401 and Wetlands programs, at Written comments may be sent directly to the Division of Water Quality, provided that they are received by February 16th, 2009. Comments should be sent to NC Division of Water Quality, Attn: Mr. John Dorney, 401/Wetlands Unit, 1650 Mail Service Center Raleigh NC 27699-1650.

The N.C. Water Rights Committee is a group of concerned citizens, business leaders, government officials and others who have joined together to make sure that the citizens of North Carolina are fully informed about the critical issue of the public’s water rights.

“We are pleased and very grateful that Mr. Naujoks has taken a stand as the Yadkin Riverkeeper and requested that Badin Lake’s contamination be addressed by Alcoa prior to any relicensing the firm may receive for the Yadkin Hydroelectric Project,” said Nancy McFarlane, president of the N.C. Water Rights Committee. “His statements are yet another indicator that the officials and leaders reviewing the licensing for the Yadkin Hydroelectric Project must keep in mind the current environmental hazards the river faces and hold the licensee accountable to address them if the Yadkin is to remain healthy and able to sustain life over the next few decades.”

About N.C. Water Rights Committee:
The N.C. Water Rights Committee is a coalition of North Carolina businesses and concerned citizens who have joined this statewide effort to inform citizens of the critical issues and decisions concerning water rights that affect all North Carolinians now and for many decades to come. For more information, visit

Patty Briguglio
MMI Associates, Inc.
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