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Yadkin Riverkeeper files for stay on Alcoa permit

An environmental watchdog has filed a lawsuit hoping to stop Alcoa from moving forward with its 50-year license on the Yadkin River. WFAE's Julie Rose reports: Alcoa has already received permission from the state's Division of Water Quality to go ahead with its plan for another 50 year license on the Yadkin River. But Yadkin Riverkeeper Dean Naujoks says state officials didn't consider all of Alcoa's impacts on the water, "in terms of contamination at the swimming areas, contamination at the 47 hazardous waste sites they found as well as PCBs linked directly to Alcoa." "We're just not comfortable with what they've issued and we feel that we will never get the chance for another 50 years to address this in this permit," adds Naujoks. This Wednesday, the Yadkin Riverkeeper and Stanly County will ask a judge to put a stay on Alcoa's water quality permit. If they succeed, it will stall the aluminum company's application for another 50-year license to produce hydropower on the Yadkin River. By federal law the state's authority in the license process is limited to approving the quality of the water passing through the company's dams. Primarily, that means making sure there's still enough oxygen in the water to keep fish alive, so the certificate did not address contamination from Alcoa's old smelter site on Badin Lake. Governor Bev Perdue has also asked for a delay of Alcoa's license renewal so she can convince federal regulators to turn the dams over to the state. Listen to our recent series "Public vs. Private: Power Struggle on the Yadkin."