Proposed Industrial Discharge to Upper Tar River


Posted on July 12th, 2017

It’s been a year since your Pamlico-Tar Riverkeeper announced  that  Novozymes  North  America,  an industrial corporation located in Franklin County, had applied for permits for a new wastewater discharge to the Tar River at Louisburg. The proposed discharge pipe is located within ¼ mile of the Town of Louisburg’s existing municipal wastewater discharge.

As noted on their website,“Novozymes produces a wide range of industrial enzymes and microorganisms,” for uses in food production, including agricultural production. Recently,  Novozymes  created  an  alliance with Monsanto (BioAg alliance) for the production of microbial based products to boost crop production.

Currently, Novozymes sends 500,000 gallons of partially treated wastewater to the Franklin County municipal wastewater plant for final treatment before being discharged to Cedar Creek. In the past, Novozymes also land-applied its wastewater in fields bordering their Franklinton facility. This land application has resulted in pollution of the area’s groundwater, including  several  adjacent  property owner wells (the company then paid for an alternative water supply). Novozymes has been required by the State of NC to develop a corrective action plan to clean up the contaminated groundwater.

The wastewater from Novozymes is high in nitrogen and also salts (sodium and potassium). Nitrogen is a priority pollutant of concern for the Tar River. Even after two decades of management efforts, excessive nitrogen pollution degrades the quality of the river and its estuary. Salts have an impact on freshwater mussels and levels in Novozymes wastewater could be toxic to them. The Tar River downstream of the proposed discharge is home to numerous endangered and threatened aquatic species, including the yellow lance mussel which the US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) recently proposed to be listed under the Federal Endangered Species Act. Sound Rivers supports the FWS on the proposed listing of this endangered mussel.

Novozymes is seeking the permit in order to expand current plant production to 2 million gallons per day of wastewater discharge. Sound Rivers staff have closely monitored Novozymes permitting process, conducted file reviews, researched the company’s compliance track record, connected with aquatic species experts and submitted public comments to federal funding agencies and state permit agencies. Recently, Sound Rivers and the Southern Environmental Law Center submitted a letter to Novozymes, the Department of Environmental Quality, and the Town of Louisburg urging them to seek a regional solution that does not include new wastewater discharge to a sensitive area of the Tar River.

If you live or recreate on the Tar River in Franklin County, our Riverkeeper wants to hear from you! Email

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