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Clayton, Novo Nordisk open industrial wastewater pretreatment plant

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CLAYTON — Community leaders and global health care company Novo Nordisk have cut the ribbon on an almost $40 million regional industrial wastewater pretreatment facility constructed through a public-private partnership.

Mayor Jody McLeod, Novo Nordisk Corporate Vice President Chad Henry, state Sen. Brent Jackson and state Rep. Donna White gathered with state and Johnston County leaders Thursday to celebrate the completion of the R. Steven Biggs Regional Wastewater Pretreatment Facility.

Located just off U.S. 70 in eastern North Carolina’s BioPharma Crescent, this state-of-the-art plant was four years in the making and will be able to treat almost 450,000 gallons of industrial wastewater per day, and potentially much more.

The pretreatment plant will immediately begin serving the largest manufacturing investment in North Carolina history — Novo Nordisk’s new $2 billion active pharmaceutical ingredient manufacturing facility being constructed across the street off Powhatan Road.

The treatment plant was built to be an economic driver for the entire region, and officials say its modular design will allow tremendous flexibility and expansion capacity for current and future biopharma partners who will be able to plug into the facility as well.

“We’re excited about the biopharmaceutical partnerships this facility has forged because this is an industry that cares about people, and that’s what Clayton is all about,” said McLeod. “We hope that Novo Nordisk is the first of many to join this regional facility in efforts to save and improve people’s lives through health care. This public-private partnership puts regionalism before individualism to solve some of today’s most critical infrastructure problems, and that speaks volumes about our relationships with these industries and Johnston County.”

Over the past 17 months, Novo Nordisk transformed eight acres off Powhatan Road into what’s described as a technological marvel where controlled chemical and biological processes will clean industrial wastewater by removing concentrations of nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorus, which can be harmful to aquatic ecosystems in excess levels.

While Novo Nordisk built the facility, the Clayton Town Council unanimously voted to accept the facility as a donation from Novo Nordisk on Oct. 7.

“Clean water is critical to our business, and we have a responsibility to protect the environment,” said Chad Henry, corporate vice president and general manager for Novo Nordisk. “This innovative economic development initiative is a win-win for all involved. In addition to providing the infrastructure needed to support our manufacturing expansion, the town of Clayton now has greater leverage to attract more businesses to the BioPharma Crescent region.”

This construction project received more than $10 million in public and nonprofit support from the N.C. General Assembly and the Golden Leaf Foundation, which supports economic opportunity in North Carolina’s rural and tobacco-dependent communities, often by awarding grants to support public infrastructure to help attract businesses to a region.

The General Assembly, N.C. Department of Commerce, N.C. Department of Environmental Quality, U.S. Economic Development Administration, Johnston County, local industry leaders and Clayton Town Council partnered in this cooperative regional solution.

The facility is named in honor of former longtime Clayton Town Manager Steve Biggs. It was his vision to see public and private entities partner to build a regional facility that would serve to solidify the community’s commitment to economic vitality and environmental stewardship.