By Jesse Wood
Because of concerns from the public regarding a proposed asphalt plant in Deep Gap by Maymead Inc., the N.C. Division of Air Quality (DAQ) held a public hearing to listen to the public on Thursday evening in the Watauga County Courthouse.
While the DAQ has no zoning authority and cannot regulate where an asphalt plant can be erected, it is required by law to review air permits for compliance with air quality and emissions regulations.
The proposal by Maymead is for the operation and construction of a 325 tons per hour, drum mix, hot mix asphalt plant (to produce a requested 300,000 tons per year) that consists of the following equipment:
- One drum dryer/mixer controlled by a bagfilter, firing either No. 2, No. 4, recycled No. 2, or recycled No. 4 fuel oil, with a 120 million Btu per hour maximum heat input
- One hot mix asphalt storage silo, with 70 tons storage capacity
- One truck loadout operation,
- One No. 2 fuel oil-fired liquid asphalt cement heater, with a 1 million Btu per hour maximum heat input, and
- Associated fuel oil and liquid asphalt cement storage tanks.
“The application was evaluated for compliance with state and federal air emission standards for particulate matter, sulfur dioxide, carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, volatile organic compounds, hazardous and toxic air pollutants,” Taylor Hartsfield, an environmental engineer with DAQ office in Winston-Salem.
Nancy Jones, a meteorologist and dispersion modeler in the DAQ’s Air Quality Analysis Branch, also spoke about the methods of her analysis of Maymead’s air permit application.
Jones said that the EPA’s recommended screening level air dispersion model, AERSCREEN, was used to estimate worst-case concentrations for 4 toxic air pollutants: arsenic, benzene, formaldehyde and nickel.
“For the proposed asphalt facility, the estimated worst-case concentrations ranged from 2 percent of the AAL for nickel to 18% of the AAL for benzene,” Jones said.
AAL stands for acceptable ambient levels, which are set by the N.C. Science Advisory Board, which Jones said is made up of experts in toxicology, biostatistics and epidemiology, environmental health, pediatric and occupational medicine, and exposure and risk assessment.
Tom Mather, a spokesperson for DAQ, said that Patrick Butler, the hearing officer at last night’s hearing would summarize comments and include written submissions in a report, along with his recommendations to DAQ Director Sheila Holman.
Holmon has 30 days to make a decision.
Listen to comments, those in support and those against, from the public in the video above.
Read the draft permit and draft permit review here.
For more background on this controversial proposal, click here.