Officials are investigating elevated levels of 1,4 dioxane discharged into a North Carolina river and focusing on the nearby Apollo Chemical manufacturing plant as the potential source, The North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality said Jan. 25.
The city has instructed Apollo to cease production and is expediting analysis of the daily effluent samples of Apollo’s discharge to the city wastewater collection system, according to the department news release.
Apollo, owned by Mount Vernon Chemicals, supplies liquid chemical blends and reactions, including lubricants, softeners, repellants and stain blockers.
Wastewater samples collected on Jan. 23 showed abnormal levels of the substance discharged into the Haw River from the South Burlington Wastewater Treatment Plant, according to the .
On Jan. 24, the Burlington Water Resources Department notified the state’s water-quality agency and utilities with drinking water intakes downstream, including the town of Pittsboro.
Results from the wastewater effluent sample showed 1,4 dioxane levels at 545 ppb, prompting the notifications.
The town of Pittsboro taking steps to protect drinking water and has notified residents.
On Jan. 25, Pittsboro officials announced an expansion of their testing and sampling procedures, along with a restriction on the quantity of water drawn from the river into the water treatment plant.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency 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.
The North Carolina Division of Water Resources (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.