Planned Lane Closure I40 East

The NC Department of Transportation Bridge Maintenance Unit plans to close a single  lane of the East Bound lanes of I40, 2.19 miles West of Exit 390.  Weather permitting crews will close the lane beginning at 8:00 am on Wednesday, September 27th at 8:00 am.  Plans are for the work to be completed by 3:00 pm.

The lane closure is necessary to allow the Bridge Maintenance Unit to make repairs to a reinforced concrete column.

There will be no planned detour for this closure.   A vicinity map is below.

I40 Closure

NCDOT urges motorists to use caution when traveling in the work zone.

For real-time travel information at any time, call 511, visit http://www.ncdot.gov/travel or follow NCDOT on Twitter. Another option is NCDOT Mobile, a phone-friendly version of the NCDOT website. NCDOT Mobile is compatible with the iPhone, Android and some newer Blackberry phones.

For further information, please contact Mark Stroud at 910-296-8730.

Pender County residents urged to prepare for Hurricane Irma

The Pender County Office of Emergency Management urged residents to prepare for Hurricane Irma.

“We’re tracking this storm,” said Tom Collins, Pender County Emergency Manager. “Every Pender County resident should take precautions to prepare for Hurricane Irma.”

Collins said families should have emergency kits ready.

“Be sure your emergency supplies kit has enough bottled water and non-perishable food to sustain each family member for three to seven days,” Collins said. “Include a weather radio, flashlight, extra batteries, toiletries, change of clothes, blankets or sleeping bag, rain gear and appropriate footwear. Also include copies of important documents, such as birth certificates and insurance policies.”

While preparing for a family emergency, don’t forget to plan for your pets. Gather supplies for your pet and put them in an easily-accessible container.

“Now is the time to prepare your home,” said Collins. “Clean out gutters and clear property of debris that could damage buildings in strong winds”

The Pender County Office of Emergency Management urges all residents to secure lawn furniture, gas grills, and items that can be become flying debris. Collins said residents should prepare for possible power outages.

Homeowners will need to purchase items such as lumber and shutters now. Pre-drill the window casings, Collins said.

“Residents in flood-prone areas should know local evacuation routes,” Collins said. “We are not issuing a voluntary evacuation at this time, but we want all Pender County residents to know the routes.”

“We are monitoring Hurricane Irma,” said Collins. “It’s important for residents to keep up with weather advisories.”

Residents may register for CodeRed, the county’s emergency alert system, at http://www.penderem.com.

Pender County Emergency Management will post updates on the Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/penderem and on the website http://www.penderem.com.

If you need assistance call the EM office at 910- 259-1210.

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State seeks to stop additional chemical discharges into the Cape Fear River

State seeks to stop additional chemical discharges into the Cape Fear River
DEQ looking at all legal options to end discharge, again demands Chemours provide complete list of chemicals in waste stream 

RALEIGH – As part of its ongoing investigation, the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality this week urged Chemours to stop discharging two additional chemical compounds into the Cape Fear River. The compounds were identified in the company’s waste stream by a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency preliminary analysis shared with the state this week.

DEQ is looking at all legal options including going to court to get the company to stop the discharge.

At a meeting on Monday, EPA scientists told the state they have identified two compounds they are calling Nafion byproducts 1 and 2 in Chemours’ waste stream and that estimated concentrations of these compounds are not decreasing. The new information prompted DEQ to write Chemours on Tuesday urging the company to stop the release of the two compounds. DEQ also repeated its demand for Chemours to provide the state agency with a complete inventory, sampling data and test results for all chemicals included in the company’s waste stream.

Details on the EPA’s findings are included in a report shared by the federal agency with DEQ today.

“Our top priority is to protect the state’s citizens,” said Michael Regan, secretary of the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality. “Until we know more about the health effects of these byproducts, the company needs to stop discharging them. We’re also repeating our demand that Chemours give us information about all other chemicals in its waste stream.”

The new information is the result of the EPA’s analysis of water samples submitted by DEQ to the EPA’s lab in Research Triangle Park. Information about the presence of the Nafion byproducts comes from preliminary analysis of water samples gathered by DEQ at Chemours’ wastewater discharge outfall near Fayetteville and finished drinking water at the Sweeney Water Treatment Plant in Wilmington. Scientists at the EPA lab are conducting further analysis of the water samples.

Preliminary results shared by the EPA this week also include three perfluorinated compounds that along with GenX were previously identified in the Cape Fear River by a 2016 study by the EPA and N.C. State University. Estimated concentrations of these three perfluorinated compounds dropped significantly, similar to GenX levels after the company stopped discharging GenX. For that reason, state and federal officials believe the three perfluorinated compounds were part of the same wastewater discharge that included GenX and was stopped.

The accuracy of the laboratory analysis for the five chemicals included in the EPA’s preliminary results is more uncertain than those available for GenX because calibration standards for these chemicals are not commercially available. EPA is using new non-targeted screening methods to develop concentration estimates for these five chemicals. With non-targeted screening, researchers are able to test for and identify chemicals present, rather than testing to see if a particular chemical is present. This is different from the more commonly known targeted screening, which is when researchers identify what they are looking for in the water and then test for those specific things.

State officials began investigating the presence of GenX in the river in June. That ongoing investigation along with pressure from residents and local officials prompted Chemours to stop discharging GenX from its Fayetteville facility. DEQ is now asking Chemours to stop discharge of the Nafion byproducts, which preliminary results indicate come from the company’s wastewater but are unchanged since the GenX discharge ended.

Little is known about the health effects of any of the five compounds—Nafion byproducts 1 and 2 or the three other perfluourinated compounds – included in this week’s analysis from the EPA.

Public health experts with DHHS used available studies to establish a health goal for GenX. Since the GenX discharge stopped, concentrations of GenX have dropped well below the state health goal of 140 parts per trillion. No similar health studies have been identified for the Nafion byproducts or the other three perfluorinated compounds analyzed by the EPA, so DHHS is unable to establish a health goal for them at this time.

DHHS reiterated its health guidance that the public can continue to drink the water, based on ongoing testing for GenX and other compounds for which health information is available. This guidance has not changed following the preliminary results shared by the EPA this week.

“I know how frustrating it is to all of us that we have very little scientific information about these unregulated, emerging compounds,” said Mandy Cohen, secretary of the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services. “We continue to work with the Environmental Protection Agency, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other scientists to get more information as quickly as possible.”

As part of the ongoing investigation, DEQ requested that the EPA analyze water samples for GenX and other unregulated chemical compounds included in the 2016 study conducted by the EPA and N.C. State University. Among those chemicals are the perfluorinated compounds the EPA reported this week. The EPA also chose to analyze the water samples for the Nafion byproducts based on a separate prior study by the federal agency. Specialists with the EPA’s lab in Research Triangle Park conducted the analysis using new technology and methodology and looked at water samples collected by DEQ over a six-week period starting June 19.

DEQ will review all this information as part of its investigation and the agency’s review of Chemours’ application for a new wastewater discharge permit.

The EPA informed state officials this week that it is working on a report that will include concentrations of other compounds at multiple sampling locations over multiple weeks.

As with the results for GenX, DEQ will make public test results for all the compounds when final data is available.

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Storm watch is canceled in Pender County

The Pender County Office of Emergency Management announced the storm watch was canceled.

“The storm stayed out to sea and we had no major issues,” said Tom Collins, Pender County Emergency Manager.

Collins said the Emergency Operations Center has resumed normal hours.

“Preparing for this tropical storm is good practice for our citizens and our emergency services,” said Collins. “While we are grateful the storm did not impact our utilities or cause flooding issues, we urge our citizens to prepare emergency kits.”

Pender County Emergency Management will continue to post updates on the Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/penderem and on the website http://www.penderem.com. If you need assistance call the EM office at 910- 259-1210.

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Pender County residents urged to prepare for tropical storm

The Pender County Office of Emergency Management urged residents to prepare for a tropical storm which may bring sustained winds of 35-40 mph and wind gusts of up to 50 mph. This storm could deliver up to 5 inches of rain, according to the National Weather Service.

“We’re tracking this storm,” said Tom Collins, Pender County Emergency Manager. “Every Pender County resident should take precautions to prepare for possible power outages. Citizens residing in low lying areas should be alert for localized flooding ”

The Pender County Office of Emergency Management urges all residents to secure lawn furniture, gas grills, and items that can be become flying debris.

Collins said residents should prepare for possible power outages.

Pender County Health Department urges residents to take this opportunity to assemble emergency supply kits which include at least one gallon of water per person, non-perishable packed or canned foods and juices, a can opener, rain gear, flashlights, a radio with fresh batteries, fully charged cell phones with an extra battery, cash, and fuel for generators. All important documents should be secured in a waterproof container. All pets should be secured.

According to the National Weather Service the tropical storm’s potential impacts include minor structural damage, large limbs and trees downed and scattered power outages.

“We urge residents to be alert in low lying areas,” said Collins. “Motorists should not cross flooded roadways with more than 4-inches of rushing water.

Pender County Emergency Management will post updates on the Facebook page at facebook.com/penderem and on the website http://www.penderem.com.

If you need assistance call the EM office at 910- 259-1210.

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Latest test results show GenX levels remain well below state health goal

Release: IMMEDIATE
Contact: Jamie Kritzer
Date: August, 24, 2017
Phone: 919-707-8602; 919-218-5935

Latest test results show GenX levels remain well below state health goal

RALEIGH – Concentrations of GenX in finished drinking water along the Cape Fear River remain well below the state’s health goal, according to the latest test results released today.

The results reflect conditions in the Cape Fear River for the sixth and seventh weeks of monitoring, which were the weeks of July 31 and Aug. 7. Water collected from the Cape Fear was analyzed at an Environmental Protection Agency lab in the Research Triangle Park.

“Levels of GenX continue to decline in the Cape Fear River since we were able to get the discharge stopped,” said Michael Regan, secretary for the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality. “This is good news, and we remain vigilant with our sampling regimen and our investigation to protect water quality in the lower Cape Fear.”

All test results for finished drinking water in this round of sampling remained well below the 140 parts per trillion health goal developed by the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services. The health goal represents the concentration of GenX at which no adverse non-cancer health effects would be anticipated over an entire lifetime of exposure to the most sensitive populations.

The state DEQ began investigating the presence of GenX in the Cape Fear River on June 19. That ongoing investigation along with pressure from residents and local officials prompted Chemours, the company manufacturing the unregulated chemical, to stop discharging GenX into the Cape Fear.

State water quality officials plan to continue water sampling and analysis at these sites for the foreseeable future. Sixteen monitoring wells were recently added to the sampling plan to investigate groundwater conditions at the Chemours facility in Bladen County. The state will make the results of the groundwater tests at the Chemours facility public when they are available.

An interactive map that includes sampling sites and testing data is available online at: https://deq.nc.gov/news/hot-topics/genx-investigation/genx-sampling-sites. More information on the state’s investigation is available at: https://deq.nc.gov/news/hot-topics/genx-investigation.

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DEQ, DHHS share budget request to protect water, ensure long-term monitoring, analysis and enforcement

Release: IMMEDIATE
Contact: Jamie Kritzer; Chris Mackey
Date: Aug. 8, 2017
Phone: 919-707-8602; 919-855-4840

DEQ, DHHS share budget request to protect water, ensure long-term monitoring, analysis and enforcement

Since 2013, DEQ has seen approximately 70 positions eliminated that once supported the permitting, compliance and enforcement programs.

RALEIGH – In response to the ongoing investigation into the compound GenX and drinking water in the Cape Fear region, Governor Cooper announced that the Department of Environmental Quality and Department of Health and Human Services would request critical funding to support additional scientists, engineers and health professionals to ensure water testing and protection statewide.

DEQ and DHHS have been in touch with the legislators from the affected counties and they received a letter from Secretary Mandy Cohen and Secretary Michael Regan earlier today outlining the details of the request. That letter can be read here.

“North Carolina families deserve to have confidence in their drinking water. We have deployed our experts to address the immediate concerns in the Lower Cape Fear region, but because of cuts over the last few years, long-term solutions will take more resources than our department currently has. It is critical that we have the engineers and environmental specialists necessary to put science first to protect our water,” said DEQ Secretary Michael Regan.

Since 2013, DEQ has seen approximately 70 positions eliminated that once supported the permitting, compliance and enforcement programs. DEQ is responsible for monitoring 38,000 miles of waterways.

“This legislation would allow DHHS to create a Water Health and Safety Unit to enhance our understanding of unregulated compounds and protect families’ drinking water,” said DHHS Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen.

The legislation contains appropriations to the state agencies as follows:

Water and public health; Department of Health and Human Services, $530,839

Resources to stand up a Water Health and Safety unit in the Division of Public Health that would include additional expertise specifically on water quality.

Medical risk assessor, a physician who has experience with poisoning and environmental toxicity;
PhD Toxicologist, to research and review available studies and formulate strategies to mitigate harmful health effects;
Informatics/ epidemiologist, to organize data and perform high-level analysis to arrive at causation of harm;
Health educator, to establish adequate public notifications and provide educational materials and briefings to the public.
Water quality monitoring, permitting; Department of Environmental Quality, $2,049,569

Funding for long-term water sampling for the presence of GenX by DEQ at a cost of $14,000 per week for a full year (currently the cost is being funded by the corporation and performed by the Environmental Protection Agency and private labs on a time-limited basis).
Staff for the Division of Water Resources: Already a backlog of wastewater permits exists, and the review time can take as long as two years. That’s too long for the public and industry. Adding experts would give us more thorough and timely review.
Four Engineers, three Environmental Specialists, two Environmental Senior Specialists, two Hydrogeologists, two Program Consultants, a Business Technology Analyst and two Chemist III to strengthen the Division of Water Resources so it can address unregulated compounds in the water discharge permitting program and allow more frequent sampling and faster evaluation.
These water quality scientists and experts like hydrogeologists and chemists would work with local governments to identify where contaminants occur and where they come from.
Move the permits from paper copies to an electronic database to integrate wastewater, drinking water and groundwater information and allow for easy searches.
The legislation would also direct the Environmental Review Commission to study whether there should be an exemption to the so-called “Hardison amendment” that prevents the state from enacting stricter standards than the federal government.

In the letter, Regan and Cohen ask legislators to authorize the request during the General Assembly’s September session.

 

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Hampstead solid waste site moved to 250 Transfer Station Rd.

The new Hampstead Solid Waste Convenience Site at 250 Transfer Station Rd. is now open.

“The site is located on Transfer Station Road, off US Hwy 17, is between Clayton Homes and Andrew’s Sea Lawn Memorial Park,” said Randell Woodruff, Pender County manager.

Transfer Station Road, which runs from US Hwy 17 to Country Club Drive, us a safer location for citizens to enter and exit, added Mack.

“The Pender County Board of Commissioners moved the solid waste center from US Hwy 17 to a safer location for our citizens,” said Woodruff.

The Commercial Transfer Station Scale and Scale House have been moved to the 250 Transfer Station Rd. site.

“A private developer is currently constructing the road extension,” said Woodruff. “Road construction should be complete by the fall of 2017 which will allow citizens easy exiting onto Country Club Drive.”

Both sites are now open and available for public use.

For more information regarding the new Hampstead Solid Waste Convenience Site, please call Pender County Utilities at 910-259-1570.

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Latest test results for finished drinking water show GenX below health goal

Release: IMMEDIATE
Contact: Jamie Kritzer
Date: Aug. 2, 2017
Phone: 919-707-8602

Latest test results for finished drinking water show GenX below health goal
GenX levels continue downward trend in water samples collected from Cape Fear region

RALEIGH – Concentrations of GenX in finished drinking water from the Cape Fear River continue to be below the state’s public health goal, according to the latest test results released by the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality.

The state’s latest test results released Wednesday reflect conditions in the Cape Fear River July 17-20 when the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality completed its fifth week of testing. The state also has received partial test results for July 24, when the sixth week of testing started.

The state results for finished drinking water remained below the 140 parts per trillion health goal developed by the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services. The health goal represents the concentration of GenX at which no adverse non-cancer health effects would be anticipated over an entire lifetime of exposure to the most sensitive populations.

The state DEQ and the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services began investigating the presence of GenX in the Cape Fear River on June 19. That ongoing investigation along with pressure from residents and local officials prompted Chemours, the company manufacturing the unregulated chemical, to stop discharging GenX into the Cape Fear. Instead the company is collecting it and transporting it out of state for incineration.

“The good news is that levels of GenX in treated drinking water continue to be below the state’s health goal and continue to trend down since we prompted Chemours to stop releasing this compound into the river,” said Michael Regan, secretary of the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality. “We will continue to monitor and test water samples, and will share testing results with the public in a timely fashion.”

Water sampling and analysis will continue at finished water sites for the foreseeable future. Also, DEQ officials began this week conducting groundwater sampling to look for any concentrations of GenX in 16 monitoring wells at Chemours’ facility in Fayetteville.

DEQ has created a map on its GenX web page to better illustrate the state’s sampling results. Results may be viewed at: https://deq.nc.gov/news/hot-topics/genx-investigation/genx-sampling-sites. For more information about the state’s investigation, you can check out the GenX web page at: https://deq.nc.gov/news/hot-topics/genx-investigation.

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