DOBBINS HEIGHTS — Engineers have completed the early erosion control and site grading measures for the new Enviva plant being built north of Dobbins Heights, according to interim County Manager Bryan Land.
In his monthly report to the Richmond County Board of Commissioners last week, Land said he met with representatives from Enviva two weeks ago to discuss progress on the plant, which is set to add 80 jobs to the area and represents a $100 million investment.
Engineers with the Sampson County contracting company Wells Brothers have now started on the bulk earthwork and grading phase of the project.
The project is still on schedule for a late Dec. 2018 completion, according to Land, but Emily Zucchino, community network manager for the Dogwood Alliance, said that there is ample evidence that Enviva’s plants have caused damage to the surrounding environment.
“This is in no way a done deal,” Zucchino said.
The plant was proposed three years ago, but has only recently drawn opposition from local environmental activists, who are asking for more transparency in assessing the affects the plant — which is one of six in the southeastern United States that will process wood pellets as an alternative energy source to coal — will have on the environment.
In June, the Asheville-based environmental advocacy group Dogwood Alliance released a video called “Rising Up with Richmond County” showing interviews with residents who fear that the plant will damage air quality of the surrounding community and add noise pollution.
Former County Manager Rick Sago dismissed the claims made in the video at the time, calling it an attempt to “get people fired up.”
“I’ve seen their video, and it’s full of lies,” he told the Daily Journal in June. “I’m not even sure where to begin.”
In a letter to the editor published by the Daily Journal on June 29, Debra David, treasurer for the Concerned Citizens of Richmond County, called for the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality to hold a public hearing on the construction of the plant, calling it “too big of a decision to be made without hearing from the people who are going to be affected.”
Zucchino said that representatives from the Dogwood Alliance and Concerned Citizens of Richmond County have met with Richmond County commissioners in the past, but that they have “not been responsive” to their concerns.
Reach Gavin Stone at 910-817-2674.