Last week, Sound Rivers’ attorneys with Southern Environmental Law Center learned the request by the mining company Martin Marietta for the North Carolina Supreme Court to review the lower court’s decision on “persons aggrieved” — whether Sound Rivers and our members have legal standing — was granted. Opening briefs are due in early June.
The challenge to the NCDEQ NPDES permit that would allow Martin Marietta to discharge up to 12-million gallons of water per day into the brackish headwaters of Blounts Creek was filed eight years ago by Sound Rivers, NC Coastal Federation and SELC. It has since bounced around the lower courts. Sound Rivers is not challenging the construction of the 649-acre limestone mine in Vance County, but the manner in which the water used in the mining process is discharged, and has maintained there are other, less ecologically harmful, ways to discharge the water. Experts have testified that consistently dumping that much fresh water per day into the creek will change the pH of the water, ultimately decimating a waterway designated by the state as a nursery for many saltwater species. Blounts Creek is a tributary of the Pamlico River.
“We are all pleased to see the case moving forward, finally,” said Sound Rivers’ Executive Director Heather Deck.