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Environmentalists call for tougher water pollution regulation in North Carolina

July 17, 2014
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North Carolina regulators are discussing new limits on toxic metal releases in state water bodies, following the recent discharge of coal ash in the Dan River. But even though regulating agencies are moving towards introducing tougher water quality standards, environmental groups still claim that the proposals include loopholes that would allow industries to dump toxic pollution into waterways, the Associated Press reported.

North Carolina is the only state in the Southeast that is not implementing regulation according to recommended federal limits for concentration of dissolved metals, including arsenic, cadmium and lead. The issue was discussed at a public hearing on Tuesday, where the state Environmental Management Commission presented its proposals for an update of the standards. If they are approved, the new limits will come into effect next year.

However, the proposed changes have been met with criticism from environmentalists who claim that the state regulator has overlooked regulation of discharges of nitrogen and phosphorous, which fuel algae growth, as well as releases of ammonia.

North Carolina is already lagging behind other states in its efforts to protect its waterways from pollution and the proposed updates will not resolve the problem, said Julie Youngman, senior attorney at the Southern Environmental Law Center. The Commission should not only introduce tougher restrictions for toxic metal pollution, but also needs to address discharges of other pollutants as well, she added.

Written comments on the proposed rules will be accepted until August 22, before the commission finalizes its rules, the Associated Press noted.

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