Environment

A crane lays the final girder on the Bonner Bridge replacement project.
Jamison Padgett / PCL Construction

Dare County officials are seeking suggestions for a new name for the bridge that spans the Oregon Inlet.

The current bridge is named for Herbert C. Bonner, a U.S. Congressman from North Carolina who served from 1940 until 1965. Bonner was instrumental in getting the bridge project off the ground.

Red circles show earthquake epicenters in the eastern United States from 1972-2012
Courtesy of Scott Marshall / Appalachian State University

There was a 2.2 magnitude earthquake west of Asheville earlier this week.

For the second year in a row, North Carolina homeowners quickly snapped up all of Duke Energy's rebates for installing solar panels.

File photo of a protest sign in front of Chemours' President of Fluoroproducts Paul Kirsch during a community meeting hosted by the chemical company Chemours at Faith Tabernacle Christian Center in St. Pauls, N.C. on Tuesday, June 12, 2018.
Ben McKeown / WUNC

This week the Wilmington City Council is expected to vote on a consent order between the North Carolina State Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) and Chemours that would require Chemours to pay $13 million in fines and fees and provide drinking water to the area surrounding its Fayetteville plant. 

UPDATE: Council is now expected to vote on the resolution at the Jan. 22 meeting. The Wilmington City Council is expected to take up the Chemours – Department of Environmental Quality consent order at their meeting this week.  The agreement was announced just before Thanksgiving.  It requires Chemours to pay a $12 million dollar fine and $1 million in fees to cover investigative costs for DEQ.  Opposition to the plan is growing.   

Curtis J. Richardson, director of the Duke University Wetland Center.
Jason deBruyn / WUNC

On Duke University's campus, near the Washington Duke Inn, there's a wetland area that reduces stormwater flooding and improves water quality. Curtis J. Richardson, director of the Duke University Wetland Center and professor in the Nicholas School of the Environment, spearheaded the project.

an offshore drilling operation in the Gulf of Mexico
Robert Seale, Maersk Drilling / Flickr, Creative Commons, https://flic.kr/p/mU1Qdz

The conversation about offshore drilling has intensified after the Trump Administration appeared to give initial approval for seismic testing in the Atlantic.

Rickey Langley with the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services shows residents where PFOS and PFOA has been found at a recent public information meeting.
Naomi Prioleau / WUNC

Environmental and health officials are testing wells around the Piedmont Triad International airport in Greensboro. They’re looking for chemicals referred to as PFOS and PFOA.

A sign at the entrance of the Fayetteville Works site on N.C. 87 in Bladen County, North Carolina.
Rusty Jacobs / WUNC

The North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality is accepting public comment over the next few weeks on a proposed consent order with a chemical company responsible for polluting the Cape Fear River and private wells near its Fayetteville plant.

Nags Head
Dave DeWitt / WUNC

A new climate assessment report from the White House forecasts devastating economic and health impacts for the United States. Thirteen federal agencies and the U.S. Global Change Research Program issued the report, which is required by Congress every four years. The report contains a chapter on the Southeast that predicts higher sea levels, coastal flooding, stronger storms, and longer and more frequent heat waves. 

This photo taken Friday, June 15, 2018 shows the Chemours Company's PPA facility at the Fayetteville Works plant near Fayetteville, N.C. where the chemical known as GenX is produced. The chemical has been found in the Cape Fear River, a source of drinking
Gerry Broome / AP

State environmental officials have obtained a consent order which calls on a North Carolina chemical plant to reduce emissions of a compound and pay a $12 million civil penalty.

Cape Fear River at Raven Rock State Park NC
Keith Weston / WUNC

Blood tests of New Hanover County residents showed no GenX, but they did reveal several newly-identified perfluorinated compounds. On Tuesday officials held a public meeting in New Hanover County to explain the test results.

This week participants in a GenX exposure study began receiving their test results. Some 345 New Hanover County residents took part in the study, giving blood, urine, and tap water samples late last year.  The  North Carolina State researchers behind the study are in Wilmington this week to explain the results.

A picture of a poultry house.
Joe Valbuena / USDA

On Tuesday another hog nuisance lawsuit opened in federal court featuring neighbors of a swine farm in Sampson County who complained of smells and noise among other nuisances. These nuisance lawsuits have drawn lots of public attention to the issues of hog waste management.

File photo of rising flood waters brought on by Hurricane Florence that threatened a building off highway 70 in Goldsboro, N.C., Sunday, Sep. 16, 2018.
Ben McKeown / For WUNC

A federal report shows Hurricane Florence broke records in a key flooding measure at more than two-dozen stream gauges in the Carolinas.

In this Sept. 2, 2016, file photo, a friend's basket of clams sit in the water as Mike Suprin, of Rollinsford, N.H., calls it a day after filling his basket with softshell clams at Cape Porpoise in Kennebunkport, Maine.
Robert F. Bukaty / AP

Valuable species of shellfish have become harder to find on the East Coast because of degraded habitat caused by a warming environment, according to a pair of scientists that sought to find out whether environmental factors or overfishing was the source of the decline.

Sea level change over time
Global Climate Change / NASA

Gov. Roy Cooper has signed an executive order that directs the state to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent by 2025. It's a move that some other state and local governments have taken since President Trump withdrew the United States from the Paris Climate Accord.

Smithfield Foods promised to cut emissions.
humanesociety.org

A major pork producer in North Carolina will address the industry's vulnerability to climate change. The move has won praise from one environmental advocacy group but scorn from another.

The Environmental Defense Fund applauded Smithfield Foods for the company's 10-year plan to capture 85,000 tons of methane per year and generate renewable energy from biogas.

A picture of a coal ash pond.
Waterkeeper Alliance

How does coal ash impact human health? A new review of existing research shows a link between living close to a coal power plant or coal ash pond and higher risks of respiratory and cardiovascular diseases, as well as higher risks of premature mortality, lung cancer, infant mortality, and poor child health. The research does not draw a direct link between these conditions and coal ash. 

Travel trailers are staged in Kinston, NC prior to delivery and installation.  These trailers are one solution in North Carolina's multi-pronged approach to temporarily house displaced survivors of Hurricane Florence.
Liz Roll / FEMA

The first families to get temporary housing after Hurricane Florence are now in RVs or mobile homes, but FEMA says as many as 600 families are still waiting for housing assistance from the federal government.

Trucking contractors haul Temporary Housing Units in Cobleskill, New York that are being shipped from a federal staging area to private home sites or commercial sites for flooding survivors of hurricanes.
Hans Pennicnk / FEMA

Thousands of Hurricane Florence victims are still displaced from their homes, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency is in North Carolina working to help.

That now includes providing temporary housing in so-called FEMA trailers and manufactured homes.

Suffering For Science With The ‘King Of Sting’

Oct 18, 2018
Courtesy of Justin Schmidt

As a boy in a boring Pennsylvania town, Justin Schmidt could not help but investigate how biting ants, stinging wasps and other insects would react when he sat on their mounds or knocked down their nests. These escapades won him no love from the bugs he bothered, but Schmidt did develop an enduring adoration for them. 

red wolf and pup
Brooke Gilley, US Forest Service / Flickr - Creative Commons - https://flic.kr/p/rT5zJf

Conservationists told a federal judge Wednesday that an imminent government plan to shrink the territory of the only red wolves living in the wild would hasten the animal's extinction in violation of federal law.

The Eastern Spadefoot toad
Jeff Hall / North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission

Coastal and Sandhill residents say they've seen a jump in the frog and toad population since Hurricane Florence.

A thin film of coal ash coats trees and vegetation in an inactive ash basin at the HF Lee plant. As expected, the area was flooded by Hurricane Florence.
c/o Duke Energy

Regulators with the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality say their tests on the Neuse River show no elevated levels of dangerous metals in the water.

The results came as a relief to Duke Energy, but were in direct conflict with tests taken by the Waterkeeper Alliance, an environmental advocacy group.

Jason DeBruyn / WUNC

 The historic flooding from Florence has eased, but communities and environmentalists are just beginning to take stock of the damage it caused.

HSUS
HSUS

Do large-scale hog farms make their neighbors sick? A new study from Duke University researchers show residents who live close to industrial hog farms have a higher risk of potentially deadly diseases. 

Courtesy of Georgann Eubanks

Being able to walk into a supermarket and pick up a carton of strawberries in January makes it easy to believe that all food should be available at all times. 

The banks of the Cape Fear River on Friday, Sept. 21, 2018.
Courtesy of Waterkeepers Alliance

There's ongoing disagreement about the levels of coal ash in the Cape Fear River near Wilmington. Environmental advocates say they have visibly seen ash, but Duke Energy says its water tests show otherwise.

Ramon Espinosa / AP Photo

One year ago, Hurricane Maria made landfall in Puerto Rico. The Category 4 storm had winds up to 150 mph and decimated the unincorporated territory. Millions of Americans were left without power and water in Puerto Rico in the wake of the storm. A report from George Washington University estimated the death toll of the hurricane to be 2,975. 

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