Mill receives water quality violation
Pactiv Evergreen has received a notice of violation from the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality after a water quality measurement taken Sept. 20, 2022, came in nearly 50% over the limit.
The notice of violation, dated March 20, is based on a Division of Water Quality review of the mill’s September 2022 Discharge Monitoring Report. One metric measured by the report is biochemical oxygen demand measured in a water sample during five days at 68 degrees. This cumbersome description is referred to in shorthand as BOD5.
BOD5 measures the amount of dissolved oxygen that microbes in the water use as they break down organic material in the water sample. The measurement indirectly reveals how much organic pollution the water holds. The more organic material, the more oxygen required by the aquatic microbes working to decompose it — sometimes to the detriment of aquatic species that rely on higher levels of dissolved oxygen to survive.
According to the notice of violation from DWR, the Sept. 20 sample yielded a BOD5 measurement of 16,187 pounds per day, 48.5% higher than the limit of 10,897 pounds per day laid out in Pactiv Evergreen’s wastewater discharge permit.
The company has 10 days after receiving the notice to respond. The DWR will consider that response when deciding whether to impose a penalty. Under the law, it could require the mill to pay up to $25,000.
The notice comes following a string of violations and community concerns over the two years that preceded Pactiv Evergreen’s March 6 announcement that the 115-year-old mill would close for good by summertime. Since May 2021, it has received 11 notices of violation for incidents ranging from accidental releases of turpentine and tall oil soap to out-of-compliance levels of E. coli to repeated complaints of gritty white dust covering cars and decks in Canton. Thus far, it has paid $38,600 in penalties levied as a result of the violations.
Pactiv Evergreen did not return a request for comment.