If Sen. Danny Britt Jr. didn’t have a cousin who lives near a proposed log fumigation facility in Delco, he might have never heard of Malec Brothers or methyl bromide or a proposed log fumigation operation that would release 100 to 140 tons of highly toxic chemical into the air each year.
But families talk, and one of Britt’s cousins told the senator about the controversial project after attending a raucous public hearing on May 3.
And now Britt, a Republican representing Columbus and Robeson counties, has written a letter to the company opposing the project.
In a letter dated May 11, Britt told David Smith, head of procurement for Malec Brothers, that he has received calls, emails and Facebook messages from constituents about the proposal. “My people are very upset, as well as myself,” Britt wrote.
A Delco resident posted Britt’s letter, written on General Assembly letterhead, on a public Facebook page devoted to the community’s opposition to the fumigation proposal.
“Until I have further information and know more about this initiative,” Britt wrote, “it is my desire that Malec Brothers not be granted a permit from DEQ.”
Britt had not heard about the proposed project until May 4, the day after the first public hearing. No one from the company contacted him, Britt wrote, nor did any Columbus County officials, Department of Environmental Quality staff or any advocacy groups “in support or against” the project.
Both the Columbus County planning board and the Board of Adjustment voted in January to approve zoning for the project. According to planning board minutes, no one from the public spoke for or against the facility. However, these meetings are held monthly in Whiteville, 28 miles from Delco, and often deal in arcane government business.
Announcements of DEQ public hearings and comment periods are posted under “news” on the agency’s website, but they are not prominently featured. By law, the agency must also post announcements in an area’s paper of record — usually in the legal notices of the classifieds section.
DEQ is continuing the original public hearing on Tuesday, May 15, at East Columbus High School gym, 32 Gator Lane, Lake Waccamaw. An information session begins at 6 p.m., followed by the hearing at 7 p.m. The agency has extended the public comment period a second time to May 18.