PENDER COUNTY, NC (WECT) - A pie and cake filling company in Pender County, SOLO FOODS, LLC, has been issued a third Notice of Violation, after inspectors found that wastewater is again draining into ponds meant for storm water.
Inspectors say materials, such as peels, from fruits and vegetables that are being washed on the property are ending up in the ponds. They say the ponds drain to Burgaw's Osgood Canal. As the materials decompose, inspectors say it puts sugar into the water. The sugar then feeds the bacteria, messing up the ecosystem's balance.
"The [sugar] begins to feed the bacteria and other micro-organisms and it causes a problem," said Daniel Sams, the Regional Engineer for the Division of Energy, Mineral, and Land Resources with the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources (NCDENR).
SOLO FOODS, LLC was issued a similar Notice of Violation back in 2006 and January 2013, for having "spills and overflows of industrial wastewater" go into two storm water ponds.
Sams say the 2006 problem 'appears' to have been resolved, but it popped up again in 2009 and still hasn't been fixed. According to the most recent Notice of Violation, issued January 7, 2014, the permits for the storm water ponds were renewed back in 2009 and "in each inspection report to date, this site remains in non-compliance due to the illegal discharges of wastewater into the storm water ponds."
Sams says voluntary compliance requests were issued from 2009 until January of 2013, when a second Notice of Violation with Intent to Access Civil Penalties was served.
Sams says there was no follow up to that Notice of Violation from 2013, and an inspection didn't take place until October 2013, nearly 10 months later. He says that is because when the Notice of Violation was issued, it was issued by the Division of Water Quality (DWQ). After that, he says the DWQ was re-organized giving the Division of Energy, Mineral and Land Resources responsibility for the storm water permitting and inspection process.
"I suspect it was just a house-keeping situation because we were in the middle of that re-organization and it wasn't until it was time for someone to do an inspection that someone looked at the file and said 'Oh look, we should have acted on this Notice of Violation,'" said Sams.
In their most recent Notice of Violation SOLO FOODS, LLC was asked to come up with an action plan detailing how they plan to fix the problem. They have a deadline of 30 days to reply, and if they don't Sams' says they could start to issue daily fines until the problem is resolved. The fines can be up to $25,000.
The General Manager of SOLO FOODS, LLC, Tim Kelly, told us that he doesn't believe any wastewater or sugar is in the ponds, but says they do plan to comply with the request. Additionally, he says he doesn't agree with the previous inspection reports.