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The original item was published from 2/5/2022 3:10:46 PM to 2/28/2022 12:00:01 AM.

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Marketing & Communications

Posted on: February 5, 2022

[ARCHIVED] City Issues Warning About Elevated Chemical Levels in Creeks Due to Fire

water quality alert map 2022

City officials are warning the public to stay out of Muddy, Mill and Monarcas creeks downstream from the Winston Weaver Co. fertilizer plant and to keep pets and other animals out of the creeks due to elevated levels of chemicals in the water resulting from the fire at the plant.

Ingesting the water could be harmful to health. Samples from a stormwater pipe of water runoff from the site found elevated levels of nitrites, nitrates, ammonia nitrogen and other potentially harmful chemicals. The pipe empties into Monarcas Creek south of the 8000 block of North Point Boulevard. Officials observed a fish kill along Monarcas Creek from the storm drain outfall to the creek’s confluence with Mill Creek. Because Mill Creek flows into Muddy Creek, the advisory includes downstream portions of Muddy Creek.

The city is working with state officials to ensure that water quality notices are posted along the affected portions of the creeks. In the meantime, it has posted an alert on its social media accounts and on the city website.

Neither of the city’s water intakes on the Yadkin River are affected. A review of permits indicated that there are no public water wells in the affected area.

Officials cannot predict how long it will take for the water quality to improve. It will depend upon the weather and other factors.

The elevated chemical levels were detected with sampling monitors. Water samples have been sent to a laboratory for a more precise measurement.

In a related development, a city official delivered on Saturday a notice of violation to a Winston Weaver company representative after discovering that raw materials were left exposed to the rain at a company storage facility on Brownsboro Road, resulting in runoff into Monarcas Creek.

City stormwater officials learned of the exposed materials after water samples drawn upstream from the plant indicated another source of contamination other than runoff from the plant site. The company has until Feb. 18 to get the materials under roof after which it could be fined $500 a day.

Firefighters continued their efforts Saturday to suppress the still-smoldering remains of the fertilizer plant by spraying water on hot spots. A water-retention berm, with a capacity of 900,000 gallons, has been built at the site to capture the fire suppression water before it runs into storm drains. Water in the berm is being pumped into holding tanks for treatment offsite. As of Saturday morning, 20 tanks, each with a capacity of 20,000 gallons, had been filled and trucked off site.

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