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What happened to Malec Brothers in Wilmington? Questions answered

Correction to earlier article about the Division of Air Quality: The name of the director of the agency is Michael Abraczinskas. We regret spelling his name incorrectly. This article also clarifies an unclear quotation in the same article.

By Diana Matthews

dianamatthews@nrcolumbus.com

Brad Newland, head of the Wilmington office of the N.C. Division of Air Quality, spoke to The News Reporter before the second public hearing on the Malec Brothers Transport fumigation permit.

In cases of more routine emissions, Newland would be the official to make a decision of whether or not to grant a permit. Malec Brothers Transport’s application, however, is for a Title V permit, the highest level of permit, due to the amount and type of pesticide to be used.

“Title V permits are written out of Raleigh,” Newland said. “The applications come to my office and I forward them to Raleigh. They devise a draft; we make comments and send it back to Raleigh for consideration.”

Pilot operation

Newland’s recollection agreed with Malec Brothers executives’ explanation that their pilot program in Wilmington last year fumigated no logs. “I do know they shipped some logs and China fumigated them,” during that temporary arrangement, Newland said.

The DAQ therefore had no oversight over Malec Brothers Transport. “They did not hold a permit,” because there was no need, Newland said.

“We do have some fumigators permitted in Wilmington who have operated for some time,” he said.

Malec Brothers Transport applied for their emissions permit about the same time as a longer-established company, Tima Capital.

When Tima Capital acquired Royal Pest, a fumigation company, they applied to take over Royal Pest’s fumigation permit. At the same time, they hoped to obtain a much higher level of allowable emissions by upgrading from a “Synthetic Minor” permit to a “Title V” permit.

William Willets of the Raleigh DAQ office estimated that his staff had received “a thousand comments” from people in the Wilmington area opposed to Tima Capital’s expansion. Willets gave that outcry as the reason why Malec Brothers simultaneous application came under extra scrutiny. Tima ceased fumigating and went back to simply removing bark from logs before shipping.

Not kicked out

“People say Wilmington kicked Tima Capital out. That’s not exactly true,” Newland said.

He confirmed that Tima Capital withdrew their fumigation application because the landowner asked them to discontinue that part of their operation. Malec Brothers Transport was not kicked out of the Port City, either. Newland suggested that they look for a less heavily populated area to set up permanently.

Mell Moore is an executive assistant at Tima Capital. She called The News Reporter to say that the company is still “very much in business and debarking logs. We were already debarking along with fumigating,” Moore said. “That way we were using less fumigant.”

The Tima Capital log yard is on Sunnydale Drive off River Road in Wilmington. Moore estimated that the company had been in that location since 2013.

“We lease from some people,” said Moore. “They asked us not to fumigate on the property any more in the interest of the public, our landlords and us.”

Moore said she had not met anyone from Malec Brothers Transport.

“We just try to stay out of other people’s business,” she said. The companies are in the same business, though. We are exporting logs to China just like Malec is.”

Newland said that he and his fellow regulators would continue “doing our best” to evaluate the facts before them in the Malec Brothers situation. Spokespeople for the Raleigh DAQ office have not responded to contacts from The News Reporter during the past two weeks.

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