BEAT POSITION STATEMENTS
BEAT POSITION PAPER #5:
OPPOSITION TO THE PERMITTING OF METHYL BROMIDE
USE IN THE FUMIGATION OF EXPORT LOGS IN COLUMBUS COUNTY
The Brunswick Environmental Action Team (BEAT) strongly opposes the permitting of use of methyl bromide (MeBr) in the large scale fumigation of export logs in Columbus County. Methyl bromide is a highly toxic and volatile compound that is most often used as a gas fumigant against insects, termites, rodents, weeds, and soil-borne diseases.
Exposure of humans to methyl bromide can lead to both acute and chronic health problems. Studies in human populations show that even short-term exposure to methyl bromide can severely injure the lungs, and long-term exposure at high concentrations can cause central nervous system and respiratory system failures and damage the eyes and skin in addition to the lungs. Animal studies have found degenerative lesions in the nasal cavity and negative effects on the testes in males. Chronic exposure can cause dizziness, vision and hearing disturbances, vomiting, depression, confusion, hallucinations, euphoria, personality changes, and irritability. Although there have been few studies that have tested for the carcinogenic properties of methyl bromide, some research has found it to be a potent cell growth stimulant and thus a potential promoter of cancerous growth.
The human health dangers caused by methyl bromide are especially troublesome because its absence of odor means that victims may not realize that exposure is occurring until one’s health has already been affected. Because onset of initial symptoms may not occur until at least 48 hours after exposure (and may be as long as several months), recognition of an application site problem may not occur until other workers and nearby persons have been affected.
Beyond the dangers to human health, methyl bromide has been found to be moderately toxic to aquatic life and to cause depletion of the stratospheric ozone layer allowing increased UV radiation to reach the earth’s surface. For this reason, pursuant to the 1987 Montreal Protocol on Substances That Deplete the Ozone Layer and the Clean Air Act, its use was incrementally phased out in the United States culminating in 2005. Unfortunately, a few exceptions were permitted, and the treatment of logs to be exported is one of the exceptions.
The current proposed use of methyl bromide is especially alarming. Acme Delco Middle School is less than one mile from the site and the Columbus County communities of Delco and Riegelwood are close by. The Brunswick County line is only one mile from the site and the communities of Northwest and Sandy Creek are 3.3 miles away and Compass Pointe is 6.5 miles away. The proposed large-scale fumigation of logs to-be-exported to China lacks meaningful attempt at reducing dangers as it allows methyl bromide to simply blow off site after use and potentially expose nearby students, other persons, and communities.
When similar operations were proposed in Morehead City and Wilmington, citizens and elected officials quickly responded to halt all operations. BEAT strongly recommends that the permit for this operation in Columbus County likewise be rejected.
Statement released on May 2, 2018.
BEAT POSITION PAPER #4:
SEISMIC TESTING (BLASTING) AND OFFSHORE DRILLING
The Brunswick Environmental Action Team (BEAT) strongly opposes seismic testing (blasting) and offshore drilling off the coast of North Carolina and the Eastern seaboard. This opposition is based both on exaggerated and mis-stated potential benefits of such action made by the gas and oil industries and because there are several very significant reasons to oppose it.
On Wednesday, January 5th, the Trump administration announced directives to vastly expand offshore drilling from the Atlantic to the Arctic Oceans. The five-year drilling plan would open up new areas of oil and gas exploration off the East Coast from Maine to Florida, where drilling has been blocked for decades. The Secretary of the Interior (and noted anti-environmentalist) Ryan Zinke proclaimed two major benefits of this exploration: the creation of jobs and strengthening America’s energy security. Neither argument is sound.
First, seismic blasting and offshore drilling would increase jobs, but most of these jobs require specific skills that are uncommon among Brunswick County residents and are jobs that will not provide long-term employment. It is not uncommon for workers on oil rigs to come in for two weeks staying on the rig and then return to their home state for two weeks. Developing clean, renewable energy sources including solar, wind, water, and geothermal, will also increase jobs, and a greater percentage would go to Brunswick County residents and provide long-term employment.
Second, tying oil and gas exploration in the Atlantic to energy security is pure foolishness. We do not know exactly how much oil and gas exists in currently off-limits areas, but the current estimate is that all of the oil in the Atlantic might provide fuel that would be consumed in only five months. In addition, the United States is currently exporting about two million barrels of oil a day. Oil in the Atlantic is not needed to boost energy independence for our country. Rather it would be used in exports to boost the profits of the oil and gas industry. That has nothing to do with energy security.
There are several reasons to oppose seismic blasting and offshore drilling. These include:
Continuing to use (and rely on) fossil fuels will continue to stimulate and accelerate climate change and its disastrous consequences for life on earth.
Offshore drilling is unsafe for workers. Accidents and tragedies occur regularly. Moreover, the Trump administration has also just announced the elimination of many safety regulations that were put into effect after the Deepwater Horizon catastrophe because they were burdensome to the oil and gas companies. Danger to workers will now be increased.
Offshore drilling involves many types of environmental risks including routine oil leaks from the platforms and oil spills from pipelines and ships. The immediate effects of toxic and smothering oil waste is mass mortality and contamination of fish and other food species, but long-term ecological effects may be worse. Oil waste poisons the sensitive marine and coastal organic substrate, interrupting the food chain on which fish and sea creatures depend, and on which their reproductive success is based. Commercial fishing enterprises may be affected permanently. Oil waste reaching the shoreline causes contamination and erosion.
Seismic testing/blasting is extremely harmful to marine life. The noise from the airguns can be heard up to 2,500 miles from the source. Even the government itself estimates seismic blasting in the Atlantic could injure or kill as many as 138,000 marine mammals like whales and dolphins and cause fish, whales, invertebrates, and sea turtles to change behaviors necessary for survival.
Offshore drilling harms our coastal communities. Oil waste that invades and pollutes these areas negatively affects available human activities, causes regional business activity to decline, and makes future investment risky. Property values decrease leading to a lower tax base and necessary increases in taxes. Even without a major spill, the industrialization and infrastructure associated with drilling—the rigs, refineries, pipelines, traffic, and routine spills and accidents—which will now be allowable only three miles offshore will irreparably change and harm our coastal communities and economies, discourage migration to this area, and significantly harm the tourism industry and all the jobs that it provides.
Statement Released on January 8, 2018.
BEAT POSITION STATEMENT: #3
SHIFTING FROM NONRENEWABLE "DIRTY" SOURCES OF
ENERGY TO RENEWABLE "CLEAN" SOURCES
The Brunswick Environmental Action Team (BEAT) strongly supports the continued transition from nonrenewable, dirty sources of energy, such as coal, crude oil, and natural gas, to renewable, clean energy sources, such as wind, solar, hydro, and geothermal. These latter sources reduce environmental harms, including the emission of greenhouse gases, provide greater energy security, contribute to economic development, and offer greater price stability. Moreover, their cost continues to decrease. For example, in some areas, costs for solar are now less than for fossil fuels, and that trend is expected to continue. We support governmental actions at all levels which promote and encourage the production and usage of renewable energy sources.
Statement released on November 18, 2017.
BEAT POSITION STATEMENT #2:
CONCERNS ABOUT THE DREDGING OF NATURALLY OCCURRING WATERWAYS (LIKE JINKS CREEK IN SUNSET BEACH)
Located just East of the Sunset Beach bridge, Jinks Creek is a never-dredged, natural tidal marsh creek that runs from the Intracoastal Waterway to where it empties into the bay at Tubbs Inlet. Tubbs Inlet is an ocean, tidal inlet between the barrier islands of Ocean Isle to the East and Sunset Beach to the West. Jinks is a sweet example of a beautiful, healthy, naturally occurring, tidal creek, surrounded on each side by Primary Nursery Area (PNA). The last time a PNA study was conducted at Jinks Creek was in 1971, 46 years ago! While this study took 3 years to complete and the marsh to either side of Jinks was designated PNA, the study on Jinks Creek itself, for reasons that are unclear, was discontinued after only one year. By default only, Jinks is presently not designated as Primary Nursery Area. It is illegal to dredge in a Primary Nursery Area unless mitigation is provided.
A proposal has been put forth to dredge this sensitive creek for Large Boat - Deep Water access. Proposed dredging is to achieve channel widths of up to 80-100 feet and depths of 5-8 feet below [deeper than] present mean low water. North Carolina law prohibits dredging a never-dredged tidal creek without permits from several agencies, and although NC Statute 113-229 prohibits taking or selling sand from one barrier island to another, the proposed dredging project is moving forward. Permit approval awaits the results of a shellfish study being conducted by Moffat & Nichol, dredging consultants, and monitored by The Scoping Committee (a group of scientists and specialists representing various governmental agencies). This study is on-going now. The Scoping Committee was previously presented with a detailed report on the science and questions raised by that science.
That report was researched and authored by the ERC (Environmental Resource Committee), whose former members have now formed what we know today as BEAT. Once the never-before-dredged section of Jinks Creek is dredged, it will require perpetual maintenance dredging in an already fragile and stressed ecosystem.
Jinks Creek is navigable now by small boats for recreation and fishing - even at low tide for those who know its waters. BEAT would like to conserve and preserve what Mother Nature has given us at Jinks Creek: a healthy estuary creek surrounded by tidal marsh filled with vital plant and aquatic life, a Primary Nursery Area, and an intact ecosystem already being stressed by man-made run-off. BEAT is concerned that allowing dredging in this type of ecosystem sets a dangerous precedent for all of our coastal tidal creeks and estuaries.
Statement released on August 28, 2017.
BEAT POSITION STATEMENT #1:
CONCERNS ABOUT GEN-X
GenX is a member of the human-made fluorochemical family that is used in a wide range of industrial processes and consumer products. Fluorochemicals have been linked to cancer and other serious health problems. In North Carolina Chemours releases GenX into the watershed upstream from Wilmington. Because GenX is water soluble, it is difficult to remove from our drinking water. GenX, like other human-made fluorochemicals, is resistant to decomposition in the environment and elimination from our bodies. It becomes concentrated in our tissues which could lead to chronic health issues.
To further complicate our watershed problem, GenX is not regulated, there are no standards and it is not tested! Furthermore, there has not been sufficient research to determine safe levels in drinking water nor the potential health risk.
BEAT urges that legislation at both the state and federal level be created to block the release of GenX into the watershed until such time as scientists can determine safe water levels. At that time a valid testing protocol along with appropriate regulations can be developed. Doing anything less may lead to potential health risks!
Statement released on June 15, 2017.