In the shadow of Alcoa, West Badin residents want you to visit their town to see the environmental threats they live with every day

By: - September 25, 2023 2:50 pm
This is a photo of a metal building, about a half mile long, that housed the former Alcoa plant in Badin, in Stanly County

The former Alcoa plant, now the Badin Business Park (File photo: Lisa Sorg)

The hulking metal shell of the former Alcoa plant in Badin, in Stanly County, is roughly a half-mile long and severs the west side — which is historically and predominantly Black — from the rest of town. Beneath the 700,000-square-foot building pollution from the smelting operations is curdling. For much of Alcoa’s tenure, there were no regulations governing hazardous waste, so the company strew hundreds of thousands of tons of toxic debris wherever it was convenient, some of it in an old unlined dump that is sitting on the edge, and in some cases under, the West Badin community.

For decades, the Concerned Citizens of West Badin and environmental advocates have petitioned the state and Alcoa for a full cleanup of the toxic waste. That would require a major excavation and money — money the billion-dollar company does not want to spend. While there have been piecemeal approaches to the cleanup, none has addressed the contaminant source — buried pot liners that held cyanide, mercury, lead and arsenic — that are leaching into the groundwater, Little Mountain Creek and Badin Lake, a drinking water supply and popular boating, swimming and fishing area.

This photo of the former Alcoa plant, metal and a half mile long, shows the view from Lee Street, which faces the plant. The building is close to the neighborhood and in this photo, viewed through the legs and scaffolding of a high-voltage electrical tower.
The view of the former Alcoa plant from Lee Street in West Badin. (File photo: Lisa Sorg)

Now, on Sept. 30, the Concerned Citizens of West Badin and NC Environmental Justice Network are sponsoring a free tour of the area and a rally in support of the residents of the predominantly Black community.

A free bus will leave the Bell Tower at UNC-Chapel Hill at 10 a.m. The program begins with lunch at the Mt. Zion Missionary Baptist Church, 500 Sherman St., in Badin at noon, followed by the bus tour at 12:45 p.m. The rally is scheduled for 3 p.m.

Registration is free and available here.

Read NC Newsline’s previous coverage of Alcoa:

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Lisa Sorg
Lisa Sorg

Assistant Editor and Environmental Reporter Lisa Sorg helps manage newsroom operations while covering the environment, climate change, agriculture and energy.