Environment

Sample products made using plastic and coal ash from ponds and landfills. Researchers at North Carolina A&T University have developed the composite building material and hope to eventually have it replace wood in some construction.
Courtesy of Kunigal Shivakumar

Researchers at North Carolina A&T University have developed a composite building material using plastic and coal ash from ponds and landfills.

winnow ant
Alex Wild

According to Eleanor Spicer Rice, ants have a range of personalities, from team player to charismatic. What she will not call them, however, are pests. 

FILE - In a Tuesday June 6, 2017 file photo, hydrologist William K. Jones, walks up a mountain near the route of the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline in Bolar, Va.
Steve Helber, File / AP

A controversial pipeline project is getting some support from local elected leaders in the eastern part of the state.

Charles Bangley of the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center leads his crew on an evening shark fishing trip on Pamlico Sound.
Jay Price / WUNC

Bull sharks and lion fish are among the species becoming more common in North Carolina, while black sea bass and other fish are getting harder to find.

Kill Devil Grill
Dave DeWitt / WUNC

In an uncommon step for a state regulator, the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality is seeking public comment on a federal government program that may allow offshore oil exploration in the Atlantic Ocean.

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

Federal prosecutors are investigating a company and its discharges of a little-studied chemical into a North Carolina river that supplies drinking water to hundreds of thousands of people.

Bull shark
Brook Ward - https://flic.kr/p/PtKaBo / Flickr - Creative Commons

Intertwining ocean currents off the coast of North Carolina form a unique environment for marine species. Both tropically-inclined and colder water animals mingle at the intersection of the Gulf Stream and the arctic Labrador Current. 

a spash of water
Kev Lewis / Flickr, Creative Commons, https://flic.kr/p/dsd82n

Officials with Greensboro's Division of Water Resources are monitoring a water facility in the city.

Flickr Commons

Recently released research from the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill projects that unchecked climate change will significantly impact premature deaths associated with air pollution.

Harkers Island at sunset
bobistraveling / flickr, Creative Commons, https://flic.kr/p/mVQxex

The North Carolina Coastal Federation has received a federal grant to clean up debris from an abandoned clam growing operation off Harkers Island.

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

Governor Roy Cooper has directed the State Bureau of Investigation to look into possible criminal charges against Chemours, the chemical company behind the release of GenX into the Cape Fear River.

Nichols the loggerhead sea turtle
Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Center, Topsail Island

An Outer Banks beach nourishment project has caught more sea turtles than expected.

FILE - In a Tuesday June 6, 2017 file photo, hydrologist William K. Jones, walks up a mountain near the route of the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline in Bolar, Va. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission released its final environmental impact statement.
Steve Helber, File / AP

The Atlantic Coast Pipeline intended to carry natural gas across West Virginia, Virginia and North Carolina would have some adverse environmental effects, including impacts on water resources, forest and other habitats, but most could be reduced to insignificant levels, an assessment by federal regulators found.

noonday globe snail
J. Fridell, USFWS / Flickr, Creative Commons, https://flic.kr/p/VYtKRW

The historic 2016 wildfires in North Carolina burned almost 100 percent of the known habitat of the noonday globe snail, yet the federally threatened species survived.

a tick on a person's skin
s p e x / Flickr, Creative Commons, https://flic.kr/p/6oSa18

The number of probable Lyme disease cases in North Carolina has been rising in recent years. The tick-borne bacteria can cause aches and fatigue, as well as serious neurological and muscular disorders.

Pollution in Shanghai, China
Leniners / Flickr - Creative Commons

Burning fossil fuels through cars and coal plants is exacerbating the presence of ground-level ozone gas in the air we breathe. The gas has been linked to negative effects on pulmonary health, but a new study from Duke University shows ozone may have serious consequences for heart health as well. 

Lanier Falls Cape Fear River, Raven Rock NC
bobistravelling / Flickr - Creative Commons

Last month a chemical compound found in the Cape Fear Public Utility Authority (CFPUA) water supply caught the attention of local officials. The contaminant GenX is manufactured by the Chemours Company at its Fayetteville Works plant. It is a replacement for a hazardous ingredient in Teflon.

researchers working with Japanese seaweed
Courtesy of Aaron Ramus / Duke University

Eradicating invasive plants and species may not always be the best policy. A new study shows a non-native species of seaweed is helping coastal habitats in North Carolina.

a spash of water
Kev Lewis / Flickr, Creative Commons, https://flic.kr/p/dsd82n

North Carolina has received $3 million from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to help the state enforce the Safe Drinking Water Act.

Duke Energy's coal-burning plant and the adjacent coal ash ponds by the Dan River.
Riverkeeper Foundation

As a Democratic gubernatorial candidate last fall, Roy Cooper blasted his Republican opponent for adopting a more lenient standard than what's recommended by North Carolina's health agency for cancer-causing hexavalent chromium in well water.

Two eagles flying
Ellen Tinsley / Dreaming Song Photos

Ellen Tinsley is acutely aware of the behavior and patterns of bald eagles in North Carolina. The retired equine veterinarian is a bald eagle monitor for the United States Army Corps of Engineers. She spends most mornings at Jordan Lake tracking the behavior of Petruchio, Kate, Hershey and Godiva – eagles who have nested in the area. 

Duke Energy's coal-burning plant and the adjacent coal ash ponds by the Dan River.
Riverkeeper Foundation

The nation's largest electric company wants regulators in North Carolina to force consumers to pay nearly $200 million a year to clean up the toxic byproducts of burning coal to generate power. That doesn't sit well with neighbors of the power plants who have been living on bottled water since toxic chemicals appeared in some of their wells.

City of Raleigh

Visitors to the Neuse River Greenway can enjoy a large field of blooming sunflowers this month. But the greenway doesn't maintain the bright field of flowers. The sunflowers are actually owned and operated by the Neuse River Resource Recovery Facility, formerly known as the wastewater treatment plant. 

A bill seeks to protect air space for military exercises by prohibiting wind farms.
Paulo Valdivieso / Flickr Creative Commons

At least two wind farm developers say they will likely suspend their projects in North Carolina if a proposed moratorium goes into effect. 

Man stands on arid land created from drought
Faixal / Pixabay - Creative Commons

The South is likely to be hit harder by the costs of climate change over the next several decades, according to a new report from the Climate Impact Lab. Researchers studied the impact of past changes in weather patterns and simulated how trends in climate change will affect the U.S. county by county. The report claims the South will see bigger costs because of dying crops, larger energy costs and higher mortality rates. 

Public Domain / Wiki Creative Commons

In the 1930s, the federal government started to map out regions deemed financially stable enough to receive mortgage assistance through a process called “redlining.” The areas identified as “too risky” for loans were largely concentrated in minority and low-income neighborhoods. During the same time, the City of Durham implemented tree-planting programs across various neighborhoods.

plastic grocery bags
Photo by mtsofan / John / found on Flickr, licensed under Creative Commons

Plastic grocery bags are still banned on the Outer Banks. At least for now.

Devon Hall, Sr., is 62 and has lived in the Duplin County town of Warsaw all his life.
Rusty Jacobs / WUNC

Hog country in eastern North Carolina can be beautiful and serene. Pastoral scenes with uncluttered horizons, neat farmhouses, corn fields swaying in the breeze, and livestock quietly grazing – the perfect place to sit on the back porch and sip some sweet tea. But if the wind shifts just right – and it often does – powerful odors from farms can force neighbors to take refuge indoors.

Overhead view of Hurricane Matthew
NASA / Flickr

Gov. Roy Cooper made another visit to Kinston as it continues to recover from Hurricane Matthew. 

The city was one of the hardest hit from the storm's record floods in October.

Cape Fear River, NC, at Raven Rock Park
Blipperman / Wikimedia Commons

A chemical compound found in the Cape Fear Public Utility Authority (CFPUA) water supply is garnering the attention of local officials. The contaminant GenX is manufactured by the Chemours Company at its Fayetteville Works plant. GenX is a replacement for a hazardous ingredient in Teflon. GenX is a relatively new compound and has yet to be regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency. Little data exists about the chemical’s health effects. Host Frank Stasio talks with Vince Winkel, reporter for WHQR in Wilmington, and Larry Cahoon, professor of biology at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, about the effects of GenX and how officials are responding to the contaminants in the water supply. 

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