COLUMBUS COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — The logs and shipping containers are already on site. Now, Malec Brothers waits to get a permit from the Division of Air Quality so they can fumigate those logs with methyl bromide.
Members of the community like Elizabeth Hester are concerned.
“I believe the company moved it to a rural, poor county in hopes that the community would not band together and come out and shut it down,” Hester said. “I am very proud of my community for coming together and saying that our children too deserve better.”
The EPA says that humans who are exposed to high concentrations of methyl bromide can experience central nervous and respiratory system failures, along with harm to the lungs, eyes, and skin.
The chemical is most dangerous at the fumigation site. Malec Brothers wants to emit 140 tons of methyl bromide per year.
“The only system to control it is how quickly they open those doors. These are not insulated units. They’re going to try to cover these with duct tape and sandbags and that’s all that’s going to be between paralysis or death and our children less than a mile away every day,” Hester said.
In documents, Malec Brothers says the containers will be monitored and procedures will be followed to make sure the facility is not overwhelmed with methyl bromide gas.
An information session will be held Tuesday at East Columbus High School at 6 p.m. a public hearing will follow at 7 p.m.
The DAQ will decide whether to issue the permit. DAQ spokesperson Megan Thorpe says if the permit is approved, Malec Brothers would be the biggest methyl bromide emitter in the state.
Brunswick County Commissioner Frank Williams sent a letter to the company Monday requesting they seek an alternate fumigation method that does not use methyl bromide. His district is right next door to the proposed site in Columbus County.
We reached out to Malec Brothers for comment on this story. We have not heard back.