The struggle for clean water downstream of Blue Ridge Paper Products’ mill in Canton, NC
The long-polluted Pigeon River, flowing through the heart of Cocke County, hasn’t been “fishable” or “swimmable” for over 100 years, and it’s hopeless as a source of treatable drinking water for downstream communities like Hartford and Newport. As everyone knows in east Tennessee, the source of the pollution is the former Champion pulp and paper mill in Canton, now owned by Evergreen Packaging, which discharges about 25 million gallons of hot, brown wastewater each day to this tiny mountain River. Toxic releases to water are still over 100,000 pounds each year.
Clean Water for NC has currently joined Clean Water Expected in East Tennessee, Cocke County, TN, Tennessee Chapter of the Sierra Club, Tennessee Conservation Voters, Tennessee Scenic Rivers Association, and Western North Carolina Alliance in a legal challenge to the facility’s discharge permit. The case is being handled by Southern Environmental Law Center.