WASHINGTON, N.C. (WNCT) – Community members trying to save a local creek went before a Beaufort County superior court judge on Thursday.
Blounts Creek supporters are trying to stop the Martin Marietta Company from dumping water into the creek. They started their morning early by rallying in front of the court house before the hearing. And even after that, they say the fight continues.
“I don’t want to look out and see our beautiful river that runs all through our county, I don’t want to see a dead river when I look out there,” said Billie Mallison, creek supporter.
“It’s pollution,” said Stanley Sheetz, creek supporter. “It’s out and out pollution. Freshwater is going to destroy that creek.”
Blounts Creek supporters have been trying to save their creek for years. They don’t want the Martin Marietta Mining Company to dump water into the creek.
Previously, a judge ruled the supporters didn’t have legal standing. They hoped Thursday’s judge has a different opinion.
“Find things that are either not correct legally or he doesn’t agree with Judge Berger and would overturn it,” explained Bob Boulden, creek supporter.
After three hours of arguments, a superior court judge ruled in favor of Blounts Creek on one of their requests.
“We won,” said Geoff Gisler, attorney. “The judge reversed that decision.”
Now Blounts Creek has legal standing.
“We were asking the judge to vacate the permit, to find that it was illegal,” explained Gisler. “He didn’t go that far.”
Martin Marietta already has a permit to dump millions of gallons of water into the creek. Supporters say that would destroy it.
Thursday’s judge said the case has to go back to the lower courts for a proper trial.
“The judge determined that there were still facts that needed to be worked out,” said Gisler.
“It gives me some faith in the judicial system here in the state,” said Boulden. “That when things don’t go the way you hope or think they should, there are alternative means of getting a fair ruling.”
For the past five years, community members have been fighting for their creek and that will continue when the case is heard in front of the office of administrative hearings. That date and time is still unknown.
9 On Your Side reached out to the Martin Marietta Company, but it refused to comment.