NC Ports: Company Abandons Plans For Fumigation Facility

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A proposed project for the State Port in Morehead City that had many residents raising health and environmental concerns will not happen, according to the NC Ports Authority.

Cogent Fibre wanted to fumigate logs using the pesticide methyl bromide.

The NC ports Authority tells WITN the company has decided not to pursue the application and won't be seeking this line of business at the Port of Morehead City.

Just last month more than 100 people showed up for a public forum to learn more about the company's proposal. The majority of those at the meeting were opposed to the fumigation plans, fearing what it could mean to air and water quality.

Methyl Bromide is considered an ozone-depleting substance and was phased out by the Environmental Protection Agency in 2005, with some exceptions.

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Concerns about what a proposed facility could mean for air and water quality along the crystal coast brought out people in Morehead City Wednesday night to learn more about the project.

They're speaking out about a proposed fumigation project at the Morehead City State port.

The company 'Cogent Fibr'e is looking to export yellow pine logs, which are found locally. But before they ship them, they plan to contract a company to use a controversial gas to fumigate the wood.

A meeting to inform the community about the project was held at the Crystal Coast Civic Center.

Morehead City residents we spoke with say they're worried that the fumigating chemical, methyl bromide, could be harmful to their air and water.

But the companies involved say the gas won't be harmful, and the project could bring jobs, and economic growth to the area.

Morehead City resident Mollie Wildes says, "My concern is in every aspect in which we can consume it. Of course it would be breathing and water supply."

The Environmental Protection Agency says methyl bromide has been phased out for use in the U.S. for the most part since 2005 because it depletes the ozone layer, but it is allowed in some cases for shipping.

Some worry fumigating near the port could be hazardous to the environment.

Harvey Walker is the mayor pro-tem of Morehead City and says, "My take on the whole thing is, do it some place else. I would like to see them do it where they cut it. To me it makes more sense after they cut it to be able to gas it."

Engineers tell us the gas won't have any effect on the water, and it'll diffuse so quickly into the air, there won't be negative impacts there either.

The presenters say the project would create 30-50 immediate local jobs and more indirect jobs down the line.

But Walker says more time, and information, are needed before he's on board.

The company needs an air permit from the Division of Air Quality.

They'll also be the ones holding a public hearing on the fumigation project, but no official date has been set.


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