Environment

NC DEQ delays decision on Atlantic Coast Pipeline air permit, requests more info on toxic pollutants

The chemical structure of benzene: A chemical that’s bad for you and the environment

Benzene, a known carcinogen, would be emitted from the Atlantic Coast Pipeline’s compressor station, prompting state environmental officials to delay its decision on its air permit. NC Department of Environmental Quality is asking the ACP, LLC, owned primarily by Duke Energy and Dominion Energy, for more information about the station’s projected benzene emissions, as well as all of the facility’s toxic air pollutants.

The request for information stops the clock on the requirement that NC DEQ issue a permit decision within 30 days of a public hearing. That hearing was held nearly three weeks ago in Garysburg, where opponents and supporters turned out to speak on the pipeline and the compressor station.

The compressor station would be located in Pleasant Hill in Northampton County. The siting of the station in the area raises environmental justice issues because 58 percent of the county’s population is Black. In addition, Northampton County is home to several polluting industries, which create a cumulative impact on the residents. Many of the industries involve the timber sector: paper and pulp mills, and an Enviva wood pellet plant.

Two other permits are also in limbo, pending more information from ACP.

The Division of Water Resources has not yet received the additional information requested in its Nov. 28 letter to Atlantic Coast Pipeline, LLC.

Nor has ACP responded to the Oct. 23 letter of disapproval that requested more information for the second erosion and sediment control plan, which is required for the section of project that would impact Northampton, Halifax, Nash, Wilson and Johnston counties.

However, the Division of Energy, Mineral and Land Resources issued a letter of approval with modifications for the erosion and sediment control plan submitted for the section of the pipeline that would traverse Cumberland, Robeson and Sampson counties.

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