National Gypsum addresses pollution worries

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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — After years away from the Cape Fear, National Gypsum makes its case to come back to Wilmington.

“We felt like that we earned the trust of the community when we worked here for thirty years, but we’re willing to say, ‘Yeah, we want you to trust in us and we will earn your trust,'” National Gypsum Corporate Communications Director Nancy Spurlock said.

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The company is also considering a location in Tampa, but it is focusing on Wilmington because it’s in the middle of the market and will help them make more.

“Wilmington is in the center. So by opening up Wilmington we’re adding to the capacity where we need it,” Spurlock said.

She says they were shocked when they saw push-back from the region after concerns about formaldehyde pollution. Both the city and county tabled discussions on offering the company around $500,000 in tax incentives to return.

“When that was brought up up in the County Commission meeting, we were, ‘Oh, my. We need to go back and look at that and see what the issue is.’ So, that brought it to our attention, that we needed to do a little more communication about that and how it’s used in our plant,” Spurlock said.

Environmental services director James Phipps says they are prepared to go through all testing necessary to earn the trust of the public.

“We will go with testing based off of, in regards to the agencies frequencies, with regard to stat tests and any other emissions testing that they require,” Phipps said.

Phipps and Spurlock both said that a high concentration of formaldehyde can be hazardous. However, their emissions have stayed will below the limit. The limit is 6.8 pounds an hour and they released 4.3 pounds an hour. That is enough formaldehyde to fill a mason jar.

No word yet on when the city and county will hold a public hearing on the incentive plan.