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Hertford County

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Ahoskie residents organize to take on wood pellet plant pollution

Spring, 2013

In the middle of a residential neighborhood, multinational corporation Enviva has opened a plant to turn trees into wood pellets to ship to Europe for power plant fuel. Europe may think they’re getting a cleaner fuel than coal, but the massive plant’s Ahoskie neighbors have experienced astonishing levels of dust on every surface for thousands of feet and 24 hour extreme noise and light. They are reporting breathing difficulties due to all the fine particulates, and have already called in DENR Air Quality inspectors several times in the past year, resulting in some further requirements for “fugitive dust prevention.” Nowhere near enough, say the residents, now working with Clean Water for NC Northeast Organizer Belinda Joyner to push for cleanup of the plant operations.

Fed up with local economic development officials who never told them about the plant or the pollution it would bring to their neighborhoods, residents are learning more about the plant’s current permits and opportunities to build pressure on local and state officials. Knowing that other plants are opening soon in Northampton County and nearby Virginia, they want to help save other residents from the smothering dust and other pollution.

Southeastern forests shouldn’t be sacrificed to be pelletized for Europe’s power plants and communities shouldn’t become sacrifice zones for this shortsighted trend, either.