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Thursday, May 23, 2024

Wilmington will host public hearing for potential state environmental agency methyl bromide regulation

The Wilmington hardwood exporter Tima Capital contracts with Royal Pest Solutions to spray logs with methyl bromide as part of a pre-shipping quarantine procedure. (Port City Daily photo | BENJAMIN SCHACHTMAN)
The Wilmington hardwood exporter Tima Capital contracted with Royal Pest Solutions to spray logs with methyl bromide as part of a pre-shipping quarantine procedure. (Port City Daily photo | BENJAMIN SCHACHTMAN)

WILMINGTON — The public is invited to voice opinions on new air quality rule changes, aimed at regulating emissions of methyl bromide at log fumigation operations.

The North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality Division of Air Quality (DAQ) will host public hearings on the proposed rules in Raleigh and Wilmington next month on methyl bromide, an issue that arose in the Wilmington area after the Tima Capital requested a new permit from DAQ, increasing its allowable use of methyl bromide tenfold.

Tima Capital planned to use methyl bromide to fumigate lumber shipped internationally. After public outcry – including calls from the county to hold public hearings – the company withdrew its permit application last year.

The lack of specific federal or state regulatory measures for the use of methyl bromide creates a potential public health risk, accord to the DAQ. In response, the DAQ has proposed regulating methyl bromide by establishing an Acceptable Ambient Level (AAL) to regulate this air pollutant and prevent public health hazards. Neurological and respiratory effects are of greatest concern from exposure to methyl bromide as the gas is odorless and colorless.

While Tima Capital withdrew its permit, DAQ noted that the recent increase in businesses interested in using methyl bromide for log fumigation in North Carolina has promoted this need for new regulations.

The proposed rule will set emission control requirements for toxic air pollutants from log fumigation operations. An amendment will add methyl bromide to the toxic air pollutant list with an AAL value of 0.005mg/m3 (milligrams per cubic meter) with a 24-hour averaging time. The Environmental Management Commission is also requesting public comment on a range for the AAL, which is suggested to be 0.005 mg/m3 to 0.078 mg/m3.  

Hearing info:

Raleigh — July 22, 6 p.m. at the Department of Environmental Quality, Green Square Training Room 1210 at 217 West Jones St.

Wilmington — July 23, 6 p.m. at the Cape Fear Cape Fear Community College, Union Station 502 N Front St.

The public comment period will be open until August 16, 2019.  Comments may be submitted by email to daq.publiccomments@ncdenr.gov with the subject line “Log Fumigation.”  Written comments can also be mailed to:

Patrick Knowlson
Division of Air Quality
1641 Mail Service Center
Raleigh, NC 27699-1641

The proposed rule, amendment, and fiscal note are available online here.

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