Revised on: 06.15.2018 at 10:37 a.m.
Posted on: 06.15.2018 at 11:00 a.m.
By Allen Turner
While much attention in Columbus County has been focused on a pending methyl bromide air quality permit application by Malec Brothers Transportation near Riegelwood, a smaller, already-permitted operation using methyl bromide is in business near Chadbourn.
Lighthouse Commodity Group, LLC, a Delaware-based corporation, has a permit from the state to emit 10 tons of methyl bromide annually, compared to the 140 tons annually for which Malec Brothers is seeking to obtain a permit.
County commissioner Buddy Byrd and a partner lease land to the company, but Byrd says he has no ties otherwise to the operation.
Although Lighthouse Commodity Group is operating on property near the intersection of Grist and Braswell roads just west of Chadbourn that is owned by Byrd and a partner, Rufus Young, Byrd says that he has no knowledge of exactly what type operations Lighthouse is conducting on the property.
“You’ll need to talk to them to get the details,” Byrd said. “The only thing I know about them is that they’re paying their rent every month.”
Telephone calls and email messages to Roger Richardson Jr., managing partner at Lighthouse, were not returned. Sea-land containers similar to the ones Malec would use were on the site Wednesday morning.
N.C. Division of Air Quality (DAQ) issued a permit on June 30, 2017, allowing Lighthouse – operating under the name of Royal Pest Solutions Inc. – to use a fumigation process utilizing methyl bromide on import/export commodities shipping containers to emit up to 10 tons of methyl bromide into the air in any consecutive 12-month period.
That contrasts with the 140 tons of methyl bromide that Malec Brothers is seeking approval for near Delco.
DAQ spokesperson Sharon Martin confirmed Tuesday that no decision has been reached by the state on the Malec Brothers permit application. She could not predict a timeframe for such a decision.
DAQ conducted two contentious hearings in May, hearings in which hundreds of area residents showed up to demonstrate their displeasure with the proposed permit. Later, county commissioners passed a resolution expressing their desire for the state to deny the Malec permit application.
Another DAQ spokesperson, Megan Thorpe, said after the commissioners’ action that their resolution would be considered by the state as DAQ officials consider the Malec Brothers’ permit application.
David Smith of Malec Brothers said the company is looking at the feasibility of implementing capture technology that would mitigate the methyl bromide release.
One concern of residents who live near the Malec Brothers site is the effect of the methyl bromide plume when it is released after logs have been treated.
The News Reporter had hoped to ask Richardson if, even though the permitted amount of methyl bromide at the Grists site is significantly less than what Malec Brothers is requesting, his operation has a similar plume release when logs are treated there.