Letters to the Editor

08/04 What You’re Saying: John Schelp, and John Balla

Keep asphalt industry out

Here we go again. After losing a City Council vote to build asphalt plants closer to homes 16 years ago, the asphalt industry is back at it.

The asphalt industry is again pushing a measure allowing them to build asphalt plants closer to houses at a site on Camden Avenue. Shame on the Board of Adjustment for approving industry's measure on July 24. Now it's up to City Council to stop this nonsense when industry's Major Special Use Permit comes up.

Once again, the asphalt industry is targeting a less affluent community of color on the east side of town. Once, again, we see a clear case of environmental injustice or concentrating smokestacks in poor neighborhoods. Asphalt fumes have six carcinogens, and the industry is working to push these poisons deeper into the community.

While a handful of people may work there, asphalt plants would actually drive away job opportunities in the nearby community. Who would want to invest in a business next to a smelly toxic asphalt plant?

The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration web site states that hot asphalt generates toxic fumes. Health effects from exposure to asphalt fumes include headache, skin rash, sensitization, fatigue, reduced appetite, throat and eye irritation, cough, and skin cancer. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "known carcinogens have been found in asphalt fumes generated at worksites."

Acetaldehyde, arsenic, benzene, cadmium, chromium, ethyl benzene, formaldehyde and poly aromatic hydrocarbons are among the many poisons being released from asphalt plants in North Carolina. We shouldn't knowingly expose our neighbors to these chemicals.

Asphalt stinks and the resultant air pollution is hazardous. The asphalt industry can shovel as many rose petals on it as they like but asphalt still stinks. And if you smell it, that means you're inhaling some of the six chemicals listed on the federal list of carcinogens.

Once again, we need to stop this sneaky move from the asphalt industry.

John Schelp

Durham

Moved by the movement

I was honored this week to take part in the March for our Lives with the group of activists from Parkland, Florida. It was their only stop in North Carolina, and what I saw and experienced deeply moved me for its authenticity and pure emotion, made all the more powerful because the rally lacked the highly produced finishes of a professionally organized event.

Make no mistake – this is a movement of high school students.

The sophomores, juniors and seniors from the Greensboro area schools hosted the visiting activists from Florida – who are also high school students. And together, they stood on stage and shared their trauma, their fear and their hopes that our public officials would action – any action – to protect them. Some spoke through tears and others with voices cracking, and many of them didn’t speak directly into the microphone. Yet everyone heard every word and captured every meaning because these students were equal parts bold and vulnerable, and at all times authentic. And their message for everyone was simple – do something:

For their teenage peers it is to register to vote and then show up on election day.

For public officials it is to make or change laws that once again make mass shootings in school a shockingly rare occurrence.

For everyone else it is to follow their lead because they are the future and they are not going to be quiet anymore.

John Balla

Raleigh

Speak up

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