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Judge Allows Blounts Creek Case to Continue

A judge has denied a motion by a building material supply company, Martin Marietta, to dismiss an appeal filed by the Southern Environmental Law Center in a ruling that allows the company to dump wastewater into Blounts Creek in Beaufort County.

The appeal from the Southern Environmental Law Center, representing North Carolina-based coastal environmental groups Sound Rivers and the North Carolina Coastal Federation, was in response to a ruling by Administrative Law Judge Phil Berger Jr. allowing Martin Marietta to discharge 12 million gallons of mine wastewater into the creek.

The law center appealed the decision in Carteret County in December 2016, and was required by state law to send out notice of the appeal filing within 10 days to all involved parties. However, due to snowy conditions in January and a state of emergency declaration, the appeal’s delivery missed the 10-day window. Sound Rivers announced that Martin Marietta used the delay as the basis for their motion, hoping to get the appeal dismissed.

Carteret County Superior Court Judge Douglas Parsons denied Martin Marietta’s motion, and the hearing is expected to continue.

“Martin Marietta’s goal with this hearing was to dismiss this important case on a technicality rather than have a trial on the merits of the case. Fortunately, the law was on our side, again, and the case to protect Blounts Creek moves forward,” stated Heather Deck, the Pamlico-Tar Riverkeeper.

Martin Marietta is looking to develop a 649-acre mine pit outside of Vanceboro. Wastewater pumped into the nearby Blounts Creek headwaters could destroy the habitat for fish, according to mine opponents. The creek is a popular recreational and fishing destination.

“It is our hope that Martin Marietta Materials will stop using legal stall tactics,” Deck said, “and instead focus on reasonable solutions that protect Blounts Creek, do not harm local citizens, comply with the law, and accomplish their business goals.”

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Staff Report

The story was compiled by staff members of Coastal Review Online.