‘We don’t want it’: Neighbors voice concerns to company on chemical emission request

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A public hearing turned heated in Delco Wednesday as neighbors shouted their oppositions to a lumber transport company's request to use the reportedly toxic chemical methyl bromide for fumigation. (Photo: Andrew James/WWAY)

DELCO, NC (WWAY) – A public hearing turned heated in Delco Wednesday as neighbors shouted their oppositions to a lumber transport company’s request to use the reportedly toxic chemical methyl bromide for fumigation.

The North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality held this public hearing. Concern over air quality brought so many neighbors and it got so heated and overcrowded, they had to move it.

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Malec Brothers Transport wants to use the chemical methyl bromide to clean lumber for its Delco transporting company. The company is based in Australia. Company leaders tell WWAY’s Andrew James the Delco site is their first U.S. based operation. Neighbors who live nearby say its putting them at risk.

“It’s wrong, it’s wrong for the public, and it’s wrong for everyone in this area,” said Darol Lennon.

Hundreds packed the Acme Delco school letting that opposition be known. Many saying its too close for comfort as the school sits just miles from the Malec Brothers site.

“Now we are looking at taking something that they want to dump in our atmosphere for our children to be able to breath and lead to bad effects what are we thinking about,” asked Gary Smith during public comment.

The NCDEQ hosts the hearing before they either grant or deny the air quality permit that would allow the company to emit 140 tons of the chemical.
The EPA says methyl bromide, which is used as a pesticide, can be toxic and can damage the ozone layer.

“The key message is here that we are setting it in a permanent site so that you can have control measures at the fans at the actual point of emission,” said Malec Brothers procurement executive David Smith.

The company has requirements to control and record how much they would emit..they are not required to contain it. If one the container leak, company officials said they would use duct tape or sand bags to seal it.

“I know that sounds poor, but the reality is as a practical measure that we are doing in operation when you are doing an assessment with a millimeter around every nook and cranny of the container which we must do, if we were to get a recording, which is highly unlikely the first thing you’d do is something that could be done straight away,”said Smith.

“I think we are having something pushed on us without people really knowing what’s going on and the chemical thing could not only hurt today but it can hurt tomorrow but they years to come and our grandchildren will be affected by it,” said neighbor Bill Hufham.

The DEQ In fact were forced to close the meeting due to the room being at capacity. They moved it to the gym. DEQ officials tell WWAY though they plan to hold another meeting – meaning that deadline for public comment that way May 8th could be pushed back.