Environmental Remediation

Badin Business Park is located on the site of a former aluminum smelter operated by Alcoa Inc. The smelter began operations in 1917, long before anyone understood the potential impact of waste materials and before there were any environmental regulations in place.

Beginning in 1990, Alcoa Inc. began to take action to identify and investigate waste sites in Stanly County related to its operations. A total of 49 potential waste sites were identified and measurable progress has been made in addressing any sites that might pose a health or environmental threat.

Significant steps have been taken to address environmental issues at the former plant site, including the removal and disposal of 725+ tons of contaminated soils, asbestos and other materials; the installation of new liners, soil covers and caps; the relocation, repair and replacement of storm piping and sewer lines; and the closure of permitted facilities.

The majority of environmental issues at the site have been resolved. Remaining issues primarily involve groundwater-related concerns at three areas.

Learn more about our environmental progress and the current status of waste sites.

Before the Badin Works plant closed in 2007, an extensive assessment of potential environmental issues related to historic plant operations was conducted.

Beginning in 1990, actions were taken to identify and investigate potential waste sites associated with Badin Works operations. Through the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), a federal program adopted by the State, 49 areas in Stanly County were identified for evaluation.

A RCRA Facility Investigation characterized and evaluated risks, and a Corrective Measures Study (CMS) sought to identify additional remediation efforts to protect human health and the environment. Multiple studies have been performed to inform the assessments of the RFI and CMS. and have concluded there are no unacceptable risks based on current and future industrial uses of the property and on recreational uses in offsite areas.

A few issues continue to be addressed at the site, mainly related to groundwater.

The Alcoa-Badin Landfill, the Old Brick Landfill, and the north end of the plant site were identified in the RCRA Corrective Measures study as areas that require further consideration. These areas will be addressed in the revised Corrective Measures Study.

Although not required or requested, a comprehensive groundwater quality investigation is underway to provide an update on the current groundwater quality across the site.

The length of time is not uncommon, as this process was very thorough and required an extensive amount of investigation, analysis and public participation.  The site has been well studied with significant regulatory oversight, and data show that both people and the environment are free of any significant risks. If there were significant risks present, DEQ would have required additional interim measures.

The RCRA process was extended when DEQ requested additional investigations in 2017 after public comments on the Corrective Measure Study. These investigations are extensive and nearing completion. An ecological risk assessment is currently underway to determine whether additional remedial measures are necessary, the findings of which will support a revision to the Corrective Measures Study (CMS).

Site cleanup activities are managed by the State of North Carolina. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) delegated authority to the NC Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) to manage these efforts. Remediation efforts are conducted in accordance with RCRA.  At DEQ’s request, US EPA has been reviewing recent reports.

This is a standard practice for remediation activities completed by private parties under the Superfund and RCRA programs. The regulatory authority sets guidelines and standards for sampling and investigation plans. DEQ reviews the sampling and investigation plans for the site.   Environmental samples are collected by a third-party firm and analyzed by an independent, certified laboratory. A detailed report is shared with the state.

The cleanup effort at Badin follows our corporate practice of managing each closed or curtailed site according to best practice standards and in accordance with applicable laws and regulations. These sites are remediated considering best management practices, customized for the needs of the site, and following the regulatory procedures and processes of the involved governing bodies.

Community Health

Among the 49 potential waste sites associated with the Badin smelter, none are located in the West Badin community. Investigations also show that stormwater and groundwater from the site flow east, away from West Badin.

Many years ago, third parties discovered evidence of illegal dumping near the former wastewater treatment facility in West Badin. An environmental consulting firm assessed the site and discovered household waste, building debris, automotive waste, and other contents. This waste was not produced by Alcoa. The waste and impacted soils were excavated and removed, and steps were taken to prevent illegal dumping.

As Alcoa’s industrial activities at the site ceased more than 15 years ago, there are no current or future risks related to worker exposure. Any worker who believes they sustained negative health conditions resulting from past occupational exposure may address claims through the workers’ compensation processes.

NPDES Water Quality Permit

The permit requires the assessment of water quality at multiple surface water discharges across the site. Water quality at the outfalls may include the measurement of concentrations of aluminum, cyanide, fluoride, suspended solids, and trichloroethylene. Also measured or assessed are chemical oxygen demand, flowrate, pH, rainfall and toxicity.

Water quality is assessed through the collection of representative water samples. Samples are collected by a third-party firm and provided to an independent, certified laboratory for analysis. Flowrate, pH, and rainfall are assessed onsite. Additional qualitative assessments, examining color, odor, clarity, floating solids, suspended solids, foam, oil sheen, and erosion or deposits, are also routinely performed.

Water samples are collected and analyzed in accordance with the schedule outlined in the permit — monthly for some parameters, and quarterly, semiannual, or annual for others. In addition, non-required samples may be collected in a reporting period to ensure representative sampling. Monitoring results are shared with the state monthly and are routinely made publicly available via the badinbusinesspark.com website.

A third-party firm collects samples using standardized operating practices. Following collection, samples are delivered to an independent, North Carolina-certified laboratory that analyzes the samples and provides a detailed report that is shared with the state.

A permit renewal application was submitted to DEQ in early 2023. Once DEQ has completed its assessment, a draft permit will be issued for public review and comment.

NC Department of Environmental Quality reviews the sampling frequency during the permitting process and considers multiple factors in selecting a frequency.

Water samples are collected and analyzed in accordance with the schedule outlined in the permit. Additional, non-required samples are often collected in a reporting period to ensure representative sampling. Even so, the water quality observed across the site is relatively consistent regardless of the monitoring frequency.

The presence of PAHs, PCBs, and many other contaminants have been tested for multiple times. These studies, which test for 126 chemical pollutants that the EPA regulates under strict analytical methods, were performed most recently in 2018, 2019 and 2022 in support of the permit renewal. The NC Department of Environmental Quality uses this data to establish required ongoing monitoring for constituents that have a reasonable potential to be present.

Alcoa hires third-party experts to collect and analyze water quality data around the site. Independent third parties have been invited to collect samples concurrent with Alcoa’s samples and compare the results. These efforts confirmed the validity of the data being collected.

The site overwhelmingly complies with its current water quality permit. The one exception — fluoride levels at one of the site’s 11 outfalls occasionally exceeds the permitted limit.  While the observed fluoride levels consistently meet the federal drinking water standards, the North Carolina permit limit is much lower.

Fluoride levels from Badin Business Park discharges are consistently below the EPA standard for drinking water (4.0 parts per million). At one of the 11 monitored outfalls, low levels of fluoride occasionally exceed the North Carolina water quality limit of 1.8 parts per million. These levels vary throughout the year but generally average around 2.0 parts per million. The levels being discharged from the site do not pose a danger to human health or the environment.

A treatability study was begun in early 2023 to collect information on potential compliance pathways for Outfall 005. The study included the evaluation of stormwater and groundwater management options as well as fluoride treatment options.

Fluoride is a chemical commonly found in nature and frequently added to consumer products such as toothpaste and many municipal water supplies to help prevent tooth decay. For perspective, concentrations of fluoride in toothpaste sold in the United States range from 1,000 to 1,500 parts per million.

A federal standard established by the EPA limits the concentration of fluoride in drinking water to 4 parts per million for the protection of human health. There is no current federal ecological standard for fluoride in surface water.

NC regulates fluoride concentration in surface waters to 1.8 parts per million for the protection of ecological receptors. The NC limit is based on a single toxicological study performed on rainbow trout in 1977. Significant scientific advances with respect to fluoride ecotoxicity have been made in the nearly half-century since the study informing the DEQ water quality standard was conducted. These studies support the protection of the environment with a significantly greater fluoride concentration than the existing fluoride water quality standard.

Monitoring data show that Badin Business Park has complied with cyanide discharge limits since April 2021 with a single exception in May 2023. In this one instance, cyanide exceeded the 5 parts per billion monthly average limit with an average concentration of 7.5 parts per billion.

Though not recognized in the current permit, North Carolina amended its water quality regulations in 2022 with regard to cyanide limits. The State historically measured total cyanide (toxic and nontoxic forms of cyanide) and now allows the option of analyzing cyanide as either available or total cyanide. Certain types of cyanide can be more toxic, but not all forms are the same.

For perspective, U.S. EPA regulates cyanide as free cyanide, which is the more toxic form. Free cyanide is not observed in the Badin Business Park water discharges and concentrations of available cyanide are below the water quality standard.

Badin Lake

The discharges from Badin Business Park that enter Badin Lake meet North Carolina permit limits.

Yes. The State of North Carolina’s Division of Public Health has declared that it is completely safe to swim and boat in Badin Lake. (https://epi.dph.ncdhhs.gov/oee/hace/docs/BadinLakeFAQs.pdf)

As for fishing, the Division of Public Health recommends that women who are pregnant, nursing, or of child-bearing age (15-44), and children under 15 should not eat any largemouth bass or catfish caught from Badin Lake. All other persons should not eat more than 1 meal per week of these fish. The mercury consumption advisory for largemouth bass is a statewide advisory that extends beyond the scope of this project and affects all waterways in the state. The catfish advisory is for areas of NC south and east of Highway I-85.

Badin Business Park

There are currently four tenants at Badin Business Park. New businesses are being recruited to the business park in collaboration with the Stanly County Economic Development Commission and the NC Department of Commerce. ERI has been a tenant of the business park for more than a decade and Trident Maritime Systems – Custom Alloy LLC is a relatively new tenant that is investing in the site and community.

The Badin Business Park site has extensive infrastructure in place — including railroad access, cranes, and extensive energy capabilities — that makes it ideal for an industrial tenant.