Apollo Chemical’s facility on Willow Springs Lane near Alamance-Burlington Regional Airport has been connected to a discharge of 1,4 Dioxane into Haw River.
Burlington has fined Apollo Chemical for a violation of the city’s Sewer Use Ordinance. According to Bob Patterson, the water resources director for the city of Burlington, this was due to a pH level of 4.9 being detected — just under the required pH range of between five and 11.
Patterson also said there is the potential for further enforcement action on Apollo Chemical for the leak.
The city of Burlington noticed the 1,4 Dioxane slug from Apollo Chemical at their South Burlington water treatment on the week of Sept. 11. The slug went through the wastewater discharge at the plant, Patterson said.
“Something was coming to the plant that was causing some low dissolved oxygen numbers in the treatment plant process. That is usually an indication that we have a slug of some kind of chemical discharge that is not normal,” Patterson said. “We were still meeting our discharge requirements, but something was going on with the biology of the plant that wasn't typical.”
This led staff at the treatment plant to take samples on Sept. 14 in order to test what was wrong with the water. Results from the samples arrived back to Burlington water officials on Sept. 21, which tested positive for 1,4-dioxane and was around 1,300 times the health advisory level as noted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
With the positive results, the city of Burlington contacted their counterparts downstream in Pittsboro, who then advised residents to limit water consumption until the 1,4-dioxane passed. Burlington’s wastewater discharge into the Haw River is located roughly 28 miles upstream of Pittsboro’s water intake.
Burlington tested their discharge water on Sept. 25 and 26, which revealed acceptable EPA-standard levels, a sign that the 1,4-dioxide had left the system.
Emily Sutton, the Haw Riverkeeper for the Haw River Assembly said she believes this is a larger problem for the Haw River watershed.
“My major concern is bigger than Burlington,” Sutton said. “My concern is that industrial polluters are repeatedly dumping their industrial toxins into a public resource that people not only use as drinking water, but also swim and fish and play in.”
Apollo Chemical did not respond to Elon News Network’s request for comment.
“They have been cooperating with us, they want to figure this out,” Patterson said.