The legal battle to protect Blounts Creek has new life after a Superior Court decision today. Carteret County Superior Court Judge Douglas Parsons denied a motion to dismiss by Martin Marietta Materials. Pamlico-Tar Riverkeeper, Heather Deck, stated, “Martin Marietta’s goal with this hearing was to dismiss this important case on a technicality rather than have a trial on the merits of the case. Fortunately, the law was on our side, again, and the case to protect Blounts Creek moves forward.”
In December, 2016 Sound Rivers and the NC Coastal Federation, represented by the Southern Environmental Law Center, appealed a decision by Administrative Law Judge Phil Berger, Jr. that would have allowed the company to move forward on plans to discharge 12 million gallons per day of mine wastewater into upper Blounts Creek, a popular fishing destination and tributary to the Pamlico River. The lower court ruling fails to protect the many interests which benefit from Blounts Creek, and completely ignores the standards of the Clean Water Act intended to protect and preserve our waters.
Sound Rivers’ attorneys from the Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC) appealed this decision in late December, 2016. This appeal was filed in Carteret County Superior Court on behalf of Sound Rivers and the NC Coastal Federation. North Carolina law requires that notice of the appeal filing be served to all parties within 10 days. SELC complied with this law, including serving the notice twice to Martin Marietta Materials due to a change of address. However, the January snowstorm and State of Emergency caused the mail service to be delayed, causing the notification to be after the 10 day deadline. Martin Marietta attempted today to use the snow storm and mail service delay for the basis of a dismissal. Their motion was denied.
“It is our hope that Martin Marietta Materials will stop using legal stall tactics and instead focus on reasonable solutions that protect Blounts Creek, do not harm local citizens, comply with the law, and accomplish their business goals”, said Ms. Deck.
Sound Rivers and partners began the challenge of a permit to Martin Marietta in 2013. In order to develop a 649-acre open pit mine outside Vanceboro in Beaufort County, N.C., Martin Marietta plans to pump up to 12 million gallons per day of ground and mining wastewater into Blounts Creek’s headwaters. The discharge will transform the swampy, high quality headwater habitat into a stream unlike anything found in coastal North Carolina, consisting primarily of the mine discharge water, permanently altering the creek’s diversity of life and abundance of high quality habitat for fish.
Judge declines to dismiss case against mining company; February 28, 2017 Washington Daily News