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 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.