Op-Ed | March 4, 2016
The North Carolina Division of Air Quality should not approve a permit for Maymead Inc. to build an asphalt plant in Deep Gap. There are too many unanswered questions regarding the impact that harmful chemicals will have on nearby residents and a local school.
The proposed site at 5251 US Highway 421 South is a mere 5.3 miles from Parkway Elementary School’s 515 students, according to Google. Although most asphalt operations are conducted during summer months, Watauga schools frequently have class going into June.
At a public hearing Thursday evening, Ray Russell of raysweather.com recommended for the DAQ to conduct a 2-year study to augment 11 months of environmental data they have already collected.
“The year was not really representative for the extremes of weather and not even the average,” Russell said. “The year in question was a La Niña year which usually means that conditions are drier in Boone. For a good part of the study it was in weak or moderate drought conditions.”
Deep Gap is also prone to temperature inversions, a weather pattern common in winter months when low-hanging air currents trap air pollutants close to the ground.
That Maymead can propose a facility in Deep Gap only highlights county commissioners failure to pass equitable zoning regulations. The Division of Air Quality only gets involved when there are no laws governing high impact developments.
“The DAQ must base its permitting decisions on whether plants can meet air quality regulations, not on whether there is local opposition,” their websitestates.
But Maymead does not have a spotless record of compliance to EPA regulations. In 2010, it failed to report its emergency and hazardous chemical inventoriesresulting in a $30,000 fine.
Local residents and Appalachian State students agree that another asphalt plant in Boone would only pollute a town known for scenic beauty, outdoor sports, and environmentally aware citizens.
Let’s breathe easy in the High Country knowing that toxic chemicals are not entering our and our neighbor’s homes by opposing the Maymead asphalt plant and urging county commissioners to adopt tougher zoning laws for the future.