Chemical facility reports source of latest 1,4-dioxane spike in Greensboro

The city of Greensboro again violated the terms of a special consent order this week after reporting that high levels of 1,4-dioxane had been released from its TZ Osborne wastewater treatment plant and into a water supply. potable water.

Preliminary levels of toxic 1,4-dioxane have been reported at 52 parts per billion in releases to South Buffalo Creek. The consent order and settlement agreement — between Greensboro, state regulators, the Haw River Assembly and the Fayetteville Public Works Commission — caps the amount of 1,4-dioxane at 35 ppb.

The samples are retested to verify the results.

Lanxess, an international chemical company with a plant in south Greensboro, discharges into the Patton Main Line, one of several that feed the sewage treatment plant. Lanxess informed the city that self-monitoring showed it to be the source of the 1,4-dioxane, according to a press release.

The company does not manufacture, use or stock 1,4-dioxane. However, the compound is often a byproduct of manufacturing processes, including plastics.

South Buffalo Creek feeds the Haw River, the city of Pittsboro’s drinking water supply; the Haw is a tributary of Lake Jordan, an important source of drinking water for Raleigh, Cary and other municipalities in the Triangle. Traditional wastewater and water treatment systems do not remove the compound.

Because it has the first potable water intake downstream, Pittsboro receives weight from the Greensboro landfill. Pittsboro officials could not immediately be reached for comment.

1,4-Dioxane is a toxic chemical used in degreasers that the EPA has classified as a probable carcinogen. There is no regulatory standard for 1,4-dioxane, but the EPA has set a health advisory target of 35 parts per billion for drinking water, which equates to excessive cancer risk at life of 1 in 10,000. The surface water target is more stringent, at 0.35 ppb, a lifetime excess cancer risk of 1 in 1 million.

This week’s posting was Greensboro’s fourth reported exceedance since 2019. However, levels of the compound in previous exceedances were much higher, ranging from 540 ppb to 1,210 ppb. The 2019 exceedance was attributed to Shamrock Environmental, which has a facility at Browns Summit in northern Guilford County.

The sources of the exceedances in 2021 are still unknown, officials with the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality reported last month. The City of Greensboro lists 29 significant industrial users who discharge into the sewer system. Of these, six flow into Patton’s main line: GSO Plating, Vertellus, Elastic Fabrics, Lanxess, Precision Fabrics and Shamrock Environmental.

Greensboro officials said in the press release that they were meeting with Lanxess “to discuss next steps.”

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