The City of Burlington has notified the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality’s Division of Water Resources of elevated 1,4 dioxane levels discharged into the Haw River from the South Burlington Wastewater Treatment Plant. The Burlington Water Resources Department also notified utilities with drinking water intakes downstream, including in the Town of Pittsboro.
Burlington currently samples for 1,4 dioxane daily and the results from Tuesday’s wastewater effluent sample showed 1,4 dioxane levels at 545 ppb (parts per billion), prompting the notifications on Wednesday. The Town of Pittsboro, which could see elevated levels in the next few days, is taking steps to protect drinking water and has notified residents.
According to Burlington officials, the city is taking steps to examine the discharge with local manufacturer Apollo Chemical. They have instructed Apollo to cease production and are expediting analysis of the daily effluent samples of Apollo’s discharge to the city wastewater collection system.
EPA has identified 1,4 dioxane as a likely human carcinogen. It is a clear liquid that is highly miscible in water. Historically, 1,4 dioxane has been used as a solvent stabilizer and is currently used for a wide variety of industrial purposes.
DWR has been conducting monthly stream monitoring for 1,4 dioxane in the Cape Fear River Basin, Neuse River Basin and the Yadkin River Basin, as well as at 30 stations statewide. DWR has also collected samples for 1,4 dioxane on a weekly basis from the South Burlington Wastewater Treatment Plant since October 2023 and 1,4 dioxane limits are currently being drafted for the city’s wastewater treatment plant permit renewal.
For more information visit, Managing Emerging Compounds in Water on the DEQ website.