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Ponca City company required to upgrade holding ponds

PONCA CITY, Okla. (AP) -- A company will be required to upgrade its wastewater holding ponds amid concern polluted water was leaking into the nearby Arkansas River and contaminating the soil and groundwater.

Under a wastewater permit issued Tuesday for Continental Carbon in Ponca City, the company either must close two of its impoundments built about 1969, put liners in them or install a monitoring system for all four impoundments on the property.

Area residents have expressed concern about the potential for pollution of the river, soil and groundwater. Department of Environmental Quality spokeswoman Monty Elder said the agency had the same concerns, although investigators couldn't prove the ponds were leaking.

The two impoundments under scrutiny were built before a standard required them to be at least 15 feet above ground water. One of the impoundments is 10 feet above ground water, while the second is 9 feet above, Elder said. They hold industrial waste water and storm water.

Continental Carbon makes carbon black, a substance used mainly as a reinforcing agent in rubber products such as tires, tubes, conveyor belts and cables.

Blake Lewis, Continental Carbon spokesman, said the company is pleased to receive the permit and will notify the environmental department of which option it will take.

"This is certainly good news for us," he said.

Ponca Tribe Chairman Dan Jones said the impoundments already have damaged land and water around Continental Carbon, and the tribe still is investigating that as part of a federal lawsuit filed against the company in April.

"A lot of that build-up you'll never get out of the soil," he said. "It's still there and you can't very well overlook that."
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