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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Spring is in the air, and according to the Environmental Protection Agency, so is a dangerous amount of sulfur dioxide.

The Wilmington area has to clean up its act, and leader have many options to do so. The New Hanover County Commission met this morning to discuss the issue.

“Everybody wants clean air, and to find out that your air has been deemed not clean is something that upsets everybody,” Commissioner Rick Catlin said.

Last week, the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources held public meetings to educate community on what’s called non-attainment and the level of sulfur dioxide in the Wilmington area. Monday, the New Hanover County Commission invited the public to share their thoughts at their meeting.

“We want to make sure we understand it,” Catlin said. “We want to understand how to solve the problem, not just avoid the designation, but also clean up our air quality.”

Catlin said the 2011 readings show Wilmington is not over the EPA SO2 safety standard. Now, the commission must meet with the EPA and discuss what non-attainment boundaries should be set.

Deborah Butler spoke out at Monday’s meeting about what she feels should be done. She said she thinks this is a bigger issue than some people know.

“It’s upsetting certainly to think that our lovely environment here is actually far more polluted than anyone realizes,” Butler said.

Butler said she found it important to speak out to the commission because it has a serious decision to make in the weeks to come.

“I just want them to make our clean air a focal point now, to be proactive rather than reactive,” she said. “We’ve already done an awful lot of damage here, and it’s not too late. The tipping point, perhaps, is not upon us yet, but it will be swiftly if we don’t get a hold of it in an aggressive manner.”

The County Commission has to present its opinion on what option it thinks should be selected for non-attainment boundaries by April 30. As of now, there are no other public meetings planned to discuss this selection.


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