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GOP Senator Asks EPA To Investigate Alcoa

A North Carolina state senator has asked the EPA to launch a criminal investigation of Alcoa to see if the company violated the Clean Water Act on the Yadkin River. Republican State Senator Stan Bingham of Davidson County requested the investigation after reading an article in a Greensboro newspaper called Yes! Weekly. The article quotes an Alcoa employee who says one of the company's four hydroelectric dams on the Yadkin River has a long-standing problem of leaking hydraulic oil and mechanical grease. The source cited one example in which a hydropower unit malfunctioned and leaked 2,000 pounds of grease into the Yadkin. The identity of the source was not revealed. Senator Bingham says the article shows "there appears to be a regular and ongoing discharge" of hydraulic oil and mechanical grease. Alcoa spokesman Mike Belwood says no employee has made the company aware of a problem about oil and grease seeping into the river. He says the company is reviewing the allegation. The Yadkin Riverkeeper announced Bingham's request for an EPA investigation. The group is fighting Alcoa's attempt to renew its 50-year federal license to operate its Yadkin River dams. Alcoa has other problems regarding that license. Last week the State Division of Water Quality revoked the permit Alcoa needs to renew its federal license. The agency took that action after Alcoa e-mails surfaced that show the company's current technology cannot meet standards for what's called a 401 water quality certificate. The state accuses Alcoa of intentionally withholding that information. Alcoa has 60 days to appeal.

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