CLEVELAND COUNTY, N.C. - Cormetech’s former chief operating officer, Thies Hoffman, pleaded guilty to five counts of violating the Federal Clean Water Act in 2016 and 2017 and repeatedly lied about it.
The German-born immigrant was given probation and forced to leave the country and never return.
The Kings Mountain plant makes and cleans industrial equipment used in power plants
"There has been some foul play," said David Caldwell, the Broad River keeper.
According to EPA records, the Kings Mountain water plant that processes waste from Cormetech and other industries, homes was releasing excessively high levels of cancer-causing pollutants, such as thallium, in 2017.
Caldwell said, "1,000% over the limit."
Thallium was used for years in rat poison before the EPA outlawed the dangerous chemical, Caldwell said.
In 2018, the water contained 400% more thallium than the limit.
He said other industrial plants could have caused it, but it was the same time that the city realized it was receiving high levels of thallium from Cormetech.
King Mountain city officials said their documents about issues with Cormetech are not related to the investigation into the company's former COO, but it's all alarming.
"Kids play in this water. People fish in Buffalo Creek," Caldwell said.
A reading of 100 contaminants is very high but the amount at the location fluctuates between 600 and 1,000, Caldwell said.
The river keeper said it will be hard to tell how much of that is diluted further downstream.
He took samples to test.
According to EPA records last month
The Thallium level was at 494% over the limit in November, according to EPA records.
The river keeper said it may not be deadly, but he wouldn't swim here.
The river keeper said the state agreed that making improvements to fix the problem with diluting the water dumped in the water would be too costly for the city of Kings Mountain.
They were given until May 2020 to make changes.
The justice department is still investigating despite the conviction and deportation of Hoffman.
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