Doing the math

Published 10:25 am Thursday, May 4, 2017

To the Editor:

I don`t have a degree in Environmental Technology and Management or Environmental Toxicology, nor am I a “talented writer”. But, what I am is one of many residents of Northampton County who cares about our air, land and water quality, the health of our family and our neighbor`s families, our reputation as a clean wholesome place to live and our property values.

Recently, my family and I canoed Merchant`s Millpond in Gates County. After paddling for two hours and not covering even a fourth of the millpond, we researched its size. Merchant`s Millpond is 760 acres of water.

VistaGreen`s proposed coal ash dump site in Margarettsville is 804 acres. That is massive! Until I paddled the millpond, I had little realization of just how large the proposed coal ash site is planned to be.

The town of Jackson is one square mile from city limit sign to city limit sign. One square mile is only 640 acres. VistaGreen`s proposed site would be 164 acres larger than the entire town of Jackson. Their largest storage pit would cover a fourth of the town! Combine that pit with their second and smallest of the two proposed pits and they would equal 219 acres of coal ash. That would cover a third of the entire town of Jackson!

I read a March 23, 2017 AP article in the Charlotte Observer entitled “Coal ash: Why in the world would we be importing it?” Quoting the article, they stated that “Shipping containers full of coal ash from China, Poland, and India have come into the U.S. through the Port of Virginia…”

Rail distance from the Port of Virginia to Margarettsville, NC is approximately 75 miles. Realizing the close proximity of the Port of Virginia to Margarettsville, I cannot help but wonder just what this might mean for Northampton County?

It has been said that VistaGreen will be paying approximately $20 million in fees to Northampton County over the next 15-20 years if approved. According to the U.S. census bureau, the population of Northampton County was 22,099 in 2010. At that, the county would receive only about $1,000 per resident over this span of time. Or, when broken down further, our county would receive less than $50 a year per resident for that 15-20 years.

$50 a year? I, for one, am not willing to sell our county`s air, water, land, health, property values or reputation for any amount of money, much less a measly $50 a year.

I don`t trust the words or the numbers from VistaGreen. I question their “goodwill” toward our county. I, personally, believe that they are willing to sacrifice our county and its citizens to fill their own pockets. And I don`t stand alone in this belief.

Oh, and just for the record, the citizens of Northampton County are not confusing lined and unlined coal ash pits, as VistaGreen keeps suggesting. We know that lined coal ash pits create problems for citizens as well.                                                                           Wanda Flythe