Wednesday, December 8, 2021

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State approves permit for asphalt plant in Caswell Co. that it rejected a year ago

State regulators in Raleigh have given the all-clear to an asphalt plant in southern Caswell County that they had previously rejected over concerns that the facility’s emissions would exceed federal air quality standards.
The N.C. Division of Air Quality ultimately approved a permit on October 19 that allows Carolina Sunrock to operate a combination-concrete-and-hot-mix-asphalt plant on 84 acres off of NC 62 South – just north of the Alamance-Caswell county border.
The plant is referred to as the “Burlington North” location inasmuch as it has a Burlington address – 12971 South NC 62, Burlington – although located across the county line in Caswell County.
The division has also issued Carolina Sandrock a second permit to set up a quarry and a distribution facility in Prospect Hill – a community in southeastern Caswell County that lies roughly 19 miles from the asphalt plant’s prospective site.
Carolina Sunrock had originally submitted applications for both of these projects in the fall of 2019 only to have them turned down a year later due to concerns about the potential emissions from these facilities.
In September of 2020, the air quality division’s parent agency – the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality – announced that its regulators had nixed both applications after they determined that the proposed facilities would exceed federal guidelines for the emissions of nitrogen dioxide and sulfur dioxide onto neighboring property. The department added that these conclusions were based on computer models that had
predicted each site’s emissions if they were operated as described in their respective permit applications.
As a result of these findings, the division summarily rejected both applications and cancelled a public hearing that it had planned to conduct on September 10, 2020.
Since the state’s rejection of its original plans, Carolina Sunrock has submitted revised versions of its permit applications to the division of air quality. The N.C. Department of Environmental Quality formally announced the approval of these amended applications on Thursday. The department’s announcement noted that these favorable decisions followed a pair of public hearings on September 20 and September 21 of this year.
“In response to community concerns raised during the public engagement process,” the department went on to elaborate, “[the Division of Air Quality] also conducted modeling to ensure each facility’s emissions were within the toxic air pollutant acceptable ambient levels.”
The state agency’s announcement doesn’t provide any additional details about the public hearings it reportedly held in September. Even so, an official with the division of air quality described the two events as “virtual” in a letter that the agency sent Carolina Sunrock on October 19 to notify it of the approval of its permit application.
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