Environment

Environment

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Tiny particles, huge environmental problem: Micro-plastics found not only in the sea but in the Neuse River Basin

If the plastic food container that contained your lunch today winds up in the Neuse River, a local creek, or the Atlantic Ocean, 60 years from now people could find it, reasonably intact. The rest of the container will have degraded into micro-plastics — teeny particles that are visible only under a microscope. Fish or shrimp might have ingested those particles, filling their guts in place of food. People might have unknowingly drunk those plastic particles in water flowing from their taps.

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Yadkin County residents dig in for a fight against a proposed mine near homes, elementary school

After living all over North Carolina, Terry and Joyce Long finally came home.  In 2020, they bought a tract of land in Hamptonville adjacent to property that had been in Joyce’s family for five generations. Joyce grew up in this Yadkin County town of just 6,100 people, and now she and Terry could raise their four children here, a quiet, rural idyll of forests and farms and night skies that light up with stars.

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‘I had a panic attack,’ says Forsyth County official about air pollution from Weaver Fertilizer fire

Fertilizer chemicals also stored near other low-income neighborhoods, communities of color Thirty-six hours after a catastrophic fire broke out at the Weaver Fertilizer plant, the air in this Winston-Salem neighborhood was practically unbreathable. Levels of fine particulate matter, known as PM 2.5, peaked at more than 30 times the EPA’s eight-hour average.

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Despite multiple fines, violations, NC Renewable Power is still a chronic and major air polluter

Robeson County facility seeks new air permit even as state records detail a long trail of failures as fines Tens of thousands of dollars in fines. Dozens of violations. Millions of tons of air pollutants. North Carolina Renewable Power in Robeson County was supposed to be part of the solution for Duke Energy to meet its renewable energy goals.

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A company clear-cut vast tracts of mountain forest, jeopardizing the survival of a beloved, unique trout

Companies owned by Alleghany County-based Bottomley Properties have a long violation history; DEQ has yet to fine them for latest round of damage The brookies were in danger of dying. Last June, after the spring thaw and a hard summer rain, a torrent of mud, dirt and rock, in some spots two feet deep, had gushed into Ramey Creek and its tributaries, potentially suffocating the fish and/or destroying their home.

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Monday numbers: Our concrete jungles harm vulnerable people and contribute to climate change

A city block can make all the difference. On a sunny day last summer, the temperature in Nash Square, an urban oasis in Raleigh shaded by magnolia and oak trees, was two degrees cooler than the concrete jungle a block away. The Urban Heat Island Mapping Project released its first round of results earlier this month, which illustrated the stark differences in how land use affects not only the temperature, but people.

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Legal notice alleges Active Energy discharging PFAS into Lumber River; Commerce Dept concerned over wood pellet company viability

Active Energy Renewable Power, a wood pellet plant beset by regulatory, legal, and operational troubles, is allegedly discharging high levels of toxic PFAS into the Lumber River, a drinking water supply for 25,000 people in Robeson County. The company is also allegedly discharging the compounds into Jacob’s Branch, a tributary of the Lumber River.

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Winston-Salem fertilizer fire reveals regulatory loopholes, spurs hard questions about building and workplace safety

Owners of the Weaver Fertilizer plant in Winston-Salem failed to submit a required chemical inventory to the NC Department of Public Safety in 2020, a key piece of information for state and local emergency officials.  Nearly 600 tons of ammonium nitrate caught fire at the Weaver plant on Jan. 31 and burned for four days. The risk of explosion was so great that Winston-Salem officials asked people to evacuate within a mile radius, temporarily displacing 6,000 residents.

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Environmental hazards loom large as emergency crews work to contain massive Winston-Salem fire

After two days, the enormous fire at the Weaver Fertilizer Plant in Winston-Salem is still burning, forcing the evacuation of more than 6,000 people within a mile radius of the 80-year-old facility. Because of the risk of explosion, firefighters can't extinguish the blaze; nor can they yet determine the cause of the fire.

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Monday numbers: A closer look at the state’s impaired, polluted waters

If you linked all the miles of impaired streams and rivers in North Carolina end to end, they would extend from the mountains to the sea four times. Add the total acreage of the state's impaired lakes, reservoirs and estuaries, and the breadth would equal nearly 2,000 golf courses.

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Greenville greenlights cryptomining facilities, energy gluttons and contributors to climate change

Somewhere in Greenville — few know the precise location — dozens of shipping containers could soon appear on the landscape. These containers, known as “modular data-processing centers” — but which are actually cryptomining operations — will be jammed with lightning-fast computers whose blinking lights indicate they are thinking.

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New revelations point to additional violations at troubled charter schools

State officials say student records were wrongfully altered at Wake and Bertie County schools by the daughter of the couple who ran them The management of Three Rivers Academy and Torchlight Academy was a family affair when state monitors found “altered documents” in the schools’ exceptional children programs.

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After years of neglect, four of NC’s most polluted Superfund sites funded for clean-up

With American Rescue Plan funds, EPA targets sites in Charlotte, Gastonia, Yadkinville and Jacksonville; here's what neighbors should know A blighted eyesore on Jacksonville's main drag. Contaminated former dry cleaners in suburban Gastonia and far east Charlotte. A vast and abandoned creosote treatment facility that has poisoned the soil, groundwater and nearby streams and a pond.

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Environment

Air testing planned for neighborhood adjacent to contaminated former missile plant in Burlington

Extent of toxic solvents still unknown; new round of testing to begin

Environmental testing could restart as early as next month at a former Army missile plant in East Burlington, the next step in cleaning up widespread contamination that has burdened a Black and Latinx neighborhood for more than 30 years.

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Monday numbers: 23 million solar panels will someday die. Should we recycle, reuse or throw away?

There are at least 23.3 million solar panels on utility-scale farms in North Carolina, and some day those panels will sputter out and die. What will become of these panels when they pass?

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PFAS, climate change, mining and hazardous waste: 2022 will be another critical year for the environment in North Carolina

On the first day of 2022, the neighbors’ air conditioners were running. The temperature at Raleigh-Durham International Airport hit 78 degrees, a record for the date; at 1:51 p.m. the high humidity even produced a heat index of 79. A heat index. In January.

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