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Authorities Identify Coats American as Likely Source of Chemical Spill

Authorities Identify Coats American as Likely Source of Chemical Spill

July 2nd spill major concern for Lake James residents and killed 400 fish in 120-yard creek section, plus many more over two miles of North Fork Catawba River

Authorities Identify Coats American as Likely Source of Chemical Spill

Map of affected area around the Coats plant and North Fork Catawba River

Authorities have identified thread company Coats American as a "potential source" of an unidentified contaminant that spilled into Limekiln Creek and the North Fork Catawba River, killing hundreds of fish and wildlife. Dissolved oxygen was low and and pH was very high (11.7).

The incident occurred immediately before July 4th weekend, causing significant concern for people downstream hoping to enjoy Lake James. As of July 7th, a 'No Swim' advisory remains in effect for the North Fork Catawba River.

Local, state and federal authorities -- including the EPA and two dozen others -- responded and worked around the clock on the incident.

As of July 4th, Coats had removed 6,000 gallons of contaminated liquid.

Coats has a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit to discharge two million of gallons of wastewater daily into the North Fork Catawba River. However, this incident appears to have stemmed from a breach of the wastewater treatment facility.

Coats' waste has high levels of chlorine and high biological oxygen demand. The Catawba Riverkeeper reviewed public waste reporting records from the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources. Between 2009 and 2014, Coats had 373 violations of its NPDES permit for multiple parameters: total residual chlorine, biological oxygen demand, total suspended solids, and various other parameters.


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Click here to fill out a pollution reportor to report water pollution to Catawba Riverkeeper by phone, call 1-888-679-9494 or 704-679-9494.  In addition, to informing your Riverkeeper, you should also report spills or contamination to federal, state and local environmental officials.

To report South Carolina water pollution call 1-888-481-0125.

To report North Carolina spills or fish kills, call your local regional Department of Environment & Natural Resources office during normal business hours (704-663-1699 for most Catawba basin areas or (828) 296-4500 for Burke, Caldwell, McDowell and other mountain counties) or 800-858-0368 after hours.  (For more information on NC spill reporting, click here)

715 N. Church St., Suite 120 . Charlotte, NC 28202 . Phone: 704.679.9494 . Fax: 704.679.9559