Dudley railroad tie fire was arson; DEQ requiring soil, ash sampling

BY: - March 10, 2023

Arson was the cause of a blaze that burned nearly 2 million creosote-treated railroad ties last month in Dudley, a fire that smoldered for nearly a week and spewed plumes of purple smoke several stories high. Now the NC Department of Environmental Quality is requiring the company, National Salvage & Service, to sample the ash, soil […]

Siler City cited another $28K for water quality violations; public can comment on special order

BY: - March 8, 2023

Siler City’s wastewater treatment plant continued to violate the Clean Water Act last year, bringing total fines to more than $267,000 for chronic water quality issues since 2016, state records show. The latest fine of $28,000 was assessed by the NC Department of Environmental Quality for violations incurred last July. At that time, average monthly levels of […]

A trifecta of hazards — water, electricity and ammonium nitrate — likely contributed to the massive Weaver Fertilizer fire

BY: - March 7, 2023

Holes gaped in the roof. Water leaked down the walls and onto the floor. Electrical fixtures routinely went on the fritz.  State documents show the extent of disrepair at the Weaver Fertilizer plant in Winston-Salem, conditions that could have contributed to a massive ammonium nitrate fire 13 months ago. The blaze burned for a week, […]

Sanford’s wastewater treatment plant legally discharges high levels of PFAS. Public can chime in on whether to strengthen its permit.

BY: - March 6, 2023

In an area already burdened by toxic chemicals in their drinking water, residents, environmental advocates and public water systems are asking state regulators to strengthen requirements for Sanford’s wastewater treatment plant – especially for discharges of toxic PFAS and 1,4-Dioxane.  The City of Sanford has applied to the NC Department of Environmental Quality to renew […]

Monday numbers: We can’t drive our way out of climate change

BY: - March 6, 2023

A half dozen modular homes are crammed in the elbow of the offramp from I-785 to US 70 on the fringes of Greensboro. In east Durham, a largely Black neighborhood is wedged in a chute of air pollution between the railroad tracks and NC 147.

Wind and whales: ‘No evidence’ links projects to deaths

BY: - March 2, 2023

Duke University marine biologist's assessment debunks claims advanced on Fox News The U.S. offshore wind power industry is in its infancy, with just a handful of turbines installed along the Atlantic coast. But they’re already being blamed for the deaths of whales that have washed up on beaches in New Jersey, New York, Virginia and elsewhere.

Spring is becoming the new summer, because of climate change

BY: - March 1, 2023

Pine pollen is gilding our windshields. Azalea blooms are emerging from their winter sleep. The gawd-awful Bradford pear trees are stinking up the side streets. Today, March 1, is meteorological spring for those of you who observe. Meteorologists measure the seasons a bit differently to make it easier to compare weather and climate statistics and […]

Four years ago, a whistleblower and I broke NC’s ag-gag law. The environment and public health are better for it.

BY: - February 26, 2023

Now that the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled North Carolina’s ag-gag law — as it applies to news-gathering — is unconstitutional, I can tell you that I violated it. To be clear, I did not trespass, but I checked several of the law’s boxes. Likewise, the worker who agreed to document and obtain […]

After a series of winter storms, regulators approve new standards for power plants

BY: - February 23, 2023

Two years after Winter Storm Uri, which caused a massive power failure in Texas that caused more than 200 deaths, and just two months after another storm, Elliott, forced blackouts in parts of the South, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has approved new extreme cold reliability standards for power plants. However, the vote last week […]

ReBuild NC’s modular home program still faltering; hurricane survivors now receiving different housing types

BY: - February 22, 2023

ReBuild NC’s highly touted modular home program, which state officials have claimed would be the fastest way to get hurricane survivors out of motels and into permanent housing, continues to falter, according to state data. Numbers provided by ReBuild NC to Policy Watch this week show that Rescue Construction Solutions has built 20 modular homes […]

In lawsuit against the EPA, North Carolina environmental, public health groups get their day in court over PFAS dispute

BY: - February 21, 2023

Every day for more than 10 years, Richard Myers II unknowingly drank water contaminated with toxic PFAS. In the 1980s and ‘90s, when Myers was a student at UNC-Wilmington, DuPont – later spun off as Chemours – was pumping those chemical compounds into the Cape Fear River. From there, PFAS entered Wilmington’s drinking water supply and flowed from the taps of hundreds of thousands of people, including Myers.

Plastics, natural gas and substation attacks: environmental bills to watch this week

BY: - February 20, 2023

With Medicaid, guns and anti-LGBT legislation consuming lawmakers’ time, only a few environmental bills have been introduced this session. The pace usually picks up — a gut-and-amend bill here, an ambush provision there — so enjoy the relative quiet while you can. That said, here are several bills worth watching this week as they emerge […]