Company withdraws request to fumigate with toxic gas

Transport company withdraws permit to use questionable chemical for fumigation

COLUMBUS COUNTY, NC (WECT) - Malec Brothers Transport has withdrawn its request for a state permit to use methyl bromide, a hazardous air pollutant, to fumigate logs on a site near the Columbus and Bladen County line, a company official confirmed on Wednesday.

The company’s permit, filed in November 2017, requested the state allow its log treatment operation in Delco to release up to 140 tons of the toxic gas into the atmosphere. The request sparked fierce opposition from community members in Brunswick and Columbus counties.

Malec Brothers Transport CEO of U.S. Operations James Harris said they decided to withdraw the permit application in response to the public’s concerns.

“We want to be good neighbors, and there are alternative methods,” Harris said in a phone interview Wednesday afternoon.

The company hoped to fumigate the logs to remove insects burrowed in the wood. Instead, the company will utilize debarking machines to remove the bark before exporting the logs, Harris explained.

“We have never fumigated once,” Harris said.

Harris said Malec Brothers Transport told the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) about its decision to withdraw the permit application last week. DEQ previously announced stricter rules for fumigation companies but had not yet decided to approve or deny Malec Brother Transport’s application.

In a statement from the DEQ, the agency states the application from Malec Brothers highlighted the need for clear regulation of the use of methyl bromide for log fumigation.

As a result, the Division of Air Quality (DAQ) is moving forward with adding methyl bromide to the list of state air toxics and establishing guidelines to help protect the public health.

Despite the withdrawal for the state permit, the DAQ views the use of the hazardous air pollutant as a matter of public concern.

DAQ inspectors visited Malec Brothers and determined that an air permit is not required for the debarking process that it is utilizing instead of methyl bromide.

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