Company wants to use hazardous gas less than a mile from middle school

The public is invited to a hearing organized by the NC Department of Environmental quality...
The public is invited to a hearing organized by the NC Department of Environmental quality (DEQ) about a company’s request to use up to 140 tons per year of a hazardous air pollutant, methyl bromide. (SOURCE: WECT)
Updated: May. 2, 2018 at 6:33 PM EDT
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DELCO, NC (WECT) - The public is invited to a hearing about a company's request to release up to 140 tons of methyl bromide, a hazardous air pollutant, per year into the atmosphere.

The hearing, organized by the NC Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), is scheduled for Thursday at 7 p.m. at Acme Delco Middle School on 26133 Andrew Jackson Hwy. in Delco.

About six company representatives from Malec Brothers Transport LLC will be attending the hearing, including the company's president from Australia, according to James Harris, CEO of U.S. Operations, who was reached by phone Wednesday.

Malec Brothers wants to build and operate a methyl bromide facility at 1408 Cronly Drive in Delco. This is about a mile from Acme Delco Middle School, and about three miles from the Northwest and Sandy Creek neighborhoods.

The company applied in November 2017 for an air permit to use methyl bromide to fumigate logs for export to foreign countries, a pest control method that completely fills a space with gas to kill bugs.

Here's how the methyl bromide fumigation would work, according to the company's permit application:

  1. Southern yellow pine logs are placed inside shipping containers, which are placed onto impervious surfaces with fans, monitoring and dispensing lines.
  2. The methyl bromide is injected into the log-filled containers.
  3. The containers are left sealed for 16-72 hours so the methyl bromide can kill all pests inside. During this time, monitors inside and outside the container will measure for methyl bromide leaks.
  4. Afterward, a single container door will be opened so that ventilation will occur. Five minutes later, a second door will open to release more methyl bromide.
  5. The permit states this slow ventilating will “allow for the controlled release of methyl bromide into the atmosphere, ensuring the site levels do not exceed safe working levels.”

If a leak is found, the company's application said crews will use duct tape or sandbags to fix the leak.

The company looked into recapturing the methyl bromide, but found this is not a feasible option because the operation is too large for recapture devices and no other companies with similar practices have implemented them.

WECT's Ben Smart will be attending the hearing. Check back tomorrow for extended coverage.

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