ALCOA updates Stanly EDC board on progress, environmental impact of Badin Business Park

Published 1:57 pm Monday, March 6, 2023

Officials from ALCOA reported last month to the Stanly County Economic Development Commission board about developments happening to the company’s property in Badin.

Robyn Gross, director of Americas ALCOA transformation/asset planning and management, said the goal of the ALCOA Transformation group is “to work actively on demolition, decommission and redevelopment” of former ALCOA locations.

The ALCOA property is now known as Badin Business Park and has multiple tenants, including Custom Alloy Corporation, Electronic Recyclers International, Atlantic Railways and Cube Hydro Carolinas.

Badin Business Park has 130 acres on the main site, with an additional 320 acres available. ALCOA closed the plant in 2010 with redevelopment taking place soon afterwards.

“We hear that ALCOA is leaving. One of the first things I want to stress is we are not,” Gross said. “We’re going to be here to redevelop the property, to take care of the environmental legacy that is at the site.”

Gross said ALCOA demolished the part of the plant involved in smelting operations but kept some intact for their “long, high bays.”

The property has lots of infrastructure, like gas, electricity and rail service, Gross said, “which makes them really great for reuse and redevelopment.”

Gross also noted Duke Energy has a plan to supply up to 50 megawatts of electricity for the park. She said the hydroelectric plant has to provide power first to Duke and not directly to the park because of state regulations.

“When ALCOA owned (the hydro plant), we could use it to supply the plant because of common ownership. Otherwise, they have to send the power to the grid only,” Gross said.

On the economic development side, Gross said ALCOA has donated more than 1,000 acres to Morrow Mountain State Park and 14 acres for Badin’s new planned waterfront park. She said the company is looking for more grant opportunities this year.

Jason Mibroda, remediation manager for ALCOA, said the park has two environmental mechanisms it employs with the state.

One is the Resource Conservation Recovery Act from the state’s Department of Environmental Quality which deals with the park’s waste program. ALCOA first received this permit in 1992 and is still operating under one renewed in 2006, called a permit renewal hold.

Mibroda said ALCOA operates under the previous permit until “we’ve completed certain obligations the state has asked us to do…generally we are in process with those activities.” He said the park will finish the obligations this year or next.

“Numerous additional studies have been completed to address DEQ’s request for additional information,” Mibroda said. “Presently, an ecological risk assessment is underway to expand upon these studies. Background information and other updates are available to the public at under the Environmental Progress section.”

The other mechanism is the Clean Water Act of 1972 under the purview of the DEQ and the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System put forth by the federal Environmental Protection Agency.

Mibroda said this is what the state uses to “track any surface water discharges to bodies of water.” In the case of the Badin facility, the mechanism covers discharges into Badin Lake and Little Mountain Creek.

ALCOA’s permit was issued July 2019 and expired last October, but Mibroda said the park put in a renewal application in April 2022. He said they hope to see a draft permit in 30 to 60 days.

“That draft permit will be out for public comment…that is where you will hear probably most of the chatter related to what is going on,” Mibroda said.

The NPDES permit regulates water discharged at 11 outfalls to the lake and creek. The discharges, according to a PowerPoint presentation given at the meeting, “meet North Carolina water quality standards and comply with permit obligations.”

The presentation also stated “discharges from BBP into Badin Lake pose no threat to human health or the environment,” and further said, “fluoride levels consistently meet the current EPA standard for drinking water.”

It further stated, “low levels of fluoride in one area occasionally exceed permit limits, but this does not impact Badin Lake.”

“There’s a lot of rhetoric about the water quality that’s being discharged into the lake…from those discharges, there is no threat to human health in the environment,” Mibroda said.

He said the one area where fluoride occasionally exceeds the permit limits is an outfall at the southern end of the property.

In an email, he said low levels in the outfall on the southern part of the property “occasionally exceed permit limits, but this does not impact the safety of Badin Lake. This discharge to an unnamed tributary to Little Mountain Creek exceeded its calculated monthly average limit six times in 2022. The average concentration over this period of time is 1.9 milligrams per liter (mg/L) compared to a permit limit of 1.8 mg/l.”

“Fluoride levels meet the current EPA standard for drinking water of less than 4 mg/L,” he said. “Ecological assessments, while ongoing, have demonstrated that the water is not harmful to human health or the environment at these levels.”

The company plans to have residential home mailings and community meetings to continue to inform the public of what goes on at BBP. Mibroda said the community advisory board and company plan to get to Badin “at least once a quarter to present high level topics of what progress has been made at the site.”

About Charles Curcio

Charles Curcio has served as the sports editor of the Stanly News & Press for more than 16 years and has written numerous news and feature storeis as well. He was awarded the NCHSAA Tim Stevens Media Representative of the Year and named CNHI Sports Editor of the Year in 2014. He has also won an award from Boone Newspapers, and has won four North Carolina Press Association awards.

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