PO Box 88 ~ Glendale Springs, North Carolina 28629 ~ Phone (336) 982-2691 ~ Fax (336) 982-2954 ~ Email:


OCTOBER 23, 2007

Janet Marsh
336-982-2691 office
336-620-2495 cell
Sue Dayton
505-331-1203 cell
Dr. James Carroll
828-688-6102 home
828-688-2104 office
Louis Zeller
(336) 977-0852 cell


Today at a press conference in Spruce Pine, the Mitchell County Citizens for Clean Air and the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League released an air pollution study of the proposed Young & McQueen asphalt plant which shows that air toxins would be deposited far from the plant site. The League’s report shows dangerous levels offsite of formaldehyde, benzene and arsenic.

The study concludes that formaldehyde would exceed the state’s health-based air pollution limit at 200 meters beyond the plant property line. Even worse, the study concludes that benzene would be deposited at dangerous levels 1.8 miles away and that arsenic would be deposited at dangerous levels 2.17 miles away.

Janet Marsh, the League’s Executive Director, said, “The state has long maintained that their computer modeling is conservative and health protective, while we have long maintained what we now can demonstrate—that the state’s approach cannot protect human health while ignoring huge amounts of asphalt plant pollution.” The new study points out that the state permit fails to include the asphalt tank heater and a 10,000 gallon liquid asphalt storage tank. Marsh continued, “The state can’t have it both ways: they can’t claim that their hands are tied by these exemptions and that their permit means that area residents are safe from pollution.”

Louis Zeller, who authored the report, used the US Environmental Protection Agency’s worst-case computer model for air pollution from the proposed asphalt plant. This EPA model calculates ground-level air poisons as well as smokestack sources. Having accessed this worst-case model only two weeks ago, the League chose the Young & McQueen plant for its first study.

Dr. James Carroll, a local resident, said, “The Mitchell County Citizens for Clean Air was formed to protect our health, our homes and our community. We know that if this plant is built, it will create bad smells, increased dust and poisonous chemicals like formaldehyde and arsenic. We want our local officials to protect us from polluting industries like this asphalt plant by keeping them away from populated areas, and we want the state to protect us by denying this air pollution permit.”

Sue Dayton, who coordinates the League’s NC Health Communities Project, said, “We are particularly concerned about the emissions of arsenic, benzene and formaldehyde. Both arsenic and benzene are known to cause cancer, and, in addition to being a suspected human carcinogen, formaldehyde is an acute irritant, causing coughing, wheezing, nausea, headaches and asthma.”

Both organizations recognize that the state’s air pollution permit does not consider plant location. The Mitchell County Board of Commissioners has the power under state statute to adopt an asphalt plant moratorium and implement a protective polluting industries ordinance.


More Details:
BREDL air pollution study of the proposed Young & McQueen asphalt plant
BREDL asphalt plants page