Provide Comment on Sanford’s Wastewater Treatment plant

North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality has released a draft water pollution permit for the wastewater treatment plant at the City of Sanford, NC. Public comments on this draft can be submitted by October 21, 2022 to Include “NPDES NC0024147” in the subject line.

The City of Sanford discharges its wastewater, which includes pollution from multiple industrial facilities and treated sewage, into its own drinking water supply. 

  • Sanford currently provides drinking water to communities in Sanford, Goldston, Lee County, and parts of Chatham County. A planned expansion would also send drinking water to residents in Fuquay-Varina, Holly Springs, and Pittsboro. 
  • With the planned growth and financial investments, the City of Sanford would send drinking water pulled from downstream of its wastewater treatment plant to more than 100,000 people in the region. 
  • Downstream of Sanford’s wastewater discharge, Fayetteville, Brunswick County, and Wilmington also source their drinking water from the Cape Fear River. 
  • In total, nearly 800,000 people are likely to be impacted by Sanford’s discharge of industrial pollution and treated sewage. 

The wastewater treatment plant receives not only sewage, but also toxic industrial pollution, which can contain harmful chemicals that the treatment plant cannot remove.

  • Sanford’s industries include metal fabrication, metal plating, cosmetic productions, industrial leachate processing, and polymer productions for industrial adhesives. 
  • These types of industries can release toxic chemicals like PFAS and 1,4-dioxane. PFAS are a class of chemicals known to cause harm to human health and the environment. Two of the most studied PFAS, PFOA and PFOS, have been shown to cause developmental effects, cancer, and other health concerns. 1,4-dioxane is similarly toxic to humans and causes cancer.
  • Traditional treatment processes cannot remove PFAS or 1,4-dioxane from wastewater or drinking water. 

Staggering levels of PFAS and 1,4-dioxane have been detected in the wastewater treatment plant for the City of Sanford in the past. 

  • In September 2019, a PFAS sample was collected in Sanford’s wastewater treatment plant that totaled 4,026 parts per trillion (ppt). For comparison, the EPA has released interim health advisory limits for two types of PFAS, PFOA and PFOS, at 0.004 ppt and 0.02 ppt, respectively. 
  • Levels of 1,4-dioxane have been as high as 13 parts per billion (ppb) from the discharge. The State of North Carolina has determined that 1,4-dioxane is toxic and poses a cancer risk at levels higher than 0.35 ppb. 

The draft permit does not prevent Sanford from releasing harmful industrial chemicals like PFAS and 1,4-dioxane into its own drinking water. 

  • The North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality has the authority and responsibility to set pollution limits in Sanford’s discharge permit so that the City does not contaminate the drinking water supplies for communities in Sanford, Goldston, Lee County, and others with PFAS, 1,4-dioxane, or other harmful chemicals.
  • The North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality must require Sanford to control the pollution it receives from its industries so that Sanford’s wastewater treatment plant does not receive industrial chemicals it cannot remove.
  • The North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality must include pollution limits on PFAS and 1,4-dioxane in Sanford’s discharge permit and require the City to protect its customers from these dangerous chemicals.

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