The deadline for compliance is quickly closing for the Hot Springs company illegally dumping chemicals into water streams. The Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality, ADEQ, gave UMETCO Minerals Corporation three years to comply with standards. UMETCO is trying to change the standards and lower the levels so the company can continue discharging into Wilson Creek.
The three year deadline has already passed. Since then, the ADEQ has also caught UMETCO releasing sulfate, chloride and total dissolved solids into nearby Indian Springs Creek without a permit.
Representatives from both sides say they are continuing to work toward remediation efforts, but people who live on the water where chemicals are being released say, they've had it, and enough is enough.
Cindy Wright has lived on Lake Catherine since the 1980's and says, battling the pollution in the water is an on-going issue.
"I'm afraid for my health, my family, my family's health, the community, and the community's health."
She's frustrated more action isn't being taken. The Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality is working with UMETCO to fix the discharge problems, but so far, the company has not been fined. According to the ADEQ, fines over the last three years would have totaled nearly $600,000.
In a letter from the ADEQ to the UMETCO remediation leader, the company had until November 20th to come up with a proposal plan to address the discharge problems. Two days later, neither side would discuss the deadline.
Cindy Wright finds that frustrating and says, more pressure needs to be put on the company to comply with state standards.
"It needs to stop right now. Period. It needs to stop," says Wright.
UMETCO representatives say, the November deadline may have been pushed back.
The ADEQ says, "We are still working with the company to address the environmental issues that are there first. Then we will deal with the enforcement issues."
One of the reasons UMETCO hasn't paid the fine yet is because of the third party rule making to lift the drinking water status on Wilson Creek so the company can continue discharging at current levels. That decision doesn't address what's happening at Indian Springs Creek.
It could be the spring before a decision is made. The ADEQ plans to take water samples from Lake Catherine at the beginning of next year.