LAKE WACCAMAW, NC (WWAY) – It’s the second but final time neighbors in Columbus County and surrounding areas came to voice their opposition to a permit allowing a transport company to fumigate with methyl bromide.
Neighbors not only shared their fears but frustrations with officials at the North Carolina Department of Air and N.C. Department of Environmental qualities.
“There’s no turning the clock back and I want to know who the hell is going to pay for it,” said Ellizabeth Hester before the panel of DAQ officials referring to the worse case scenario if the chemical gets out in large quantities.
Frustration over the debate to allow fumigation by Malec Brothers transport.
The Department of Air Quality is going through the process of deciding to grant or deny the Australian company’s permit to use methyl bromide, but those in Columbus and surrounding counties want nothing to do with it.
“We cannot put our children’s safety, our school’s safety, above anything that’s top priority,” said Randy Coleman who sits on the Columbus County Board of Education speaking before the DAQ panel.
The permit would allow the log transport company to fumigate upwards to 140 tons of the insecticide that the EPA has restricted from several industries. Families and even industry in the area are concerned by the potential consequences if the permit is granted.
“We’re worried that this kind of bad press would keep people from coming out and experiencing all the great things that Columbus county has to offer,” said Ron England who owns Cape Fearless Extreme that sits a little more than a mile from the Malec Brothers site.
Malec Brothers company officials made the first meeting that was so overcrowded the DEQ had to schedule this second one. No company officials were available at the hearing in Lake Waccamaw and when WWAY’s Andrew James reached one of them by phone they declined to comment.
“The water is already polluted and now you’re trying to finish the air off,” said one neighbors before the DAQ panel.
DAQ officials took comments and answered questions. Director Michael Abraczinskas plans to take suggestions such as emissions capture back when they make the final decision.
“The role in our division in the air quality permitting process is geared toward protecting the public’s health,” said Abraczinskas.
The public comment period ends May 18th. You can send comments online to DEQ befoer that deadline.