Arts + Entertainment

It’s a sunny, abnormally warm October afternoon, and Tom Anspach is ready to meet it with a canoe on the Pigeon River.

But Anspach, accompanied by 19-year-old Josh Arford, isn’t there to paddle for miles or fish for trout. He’s there to fish for trash.

fr scottscreekRunning through the hearts of Dillsboro and Sylva on its tumble down from Balsam, Scotts Creek has star potential. It could be a centerpiece of both downtowns — a magnet for anglers, kayakers and kids looking for a place to splash around.

fr glenvilleAfter testing last year found Lake Glenville’s walleye fish to have some of the highest mercury concentrations in North Carolina, state officials returned to Jackson County to look at mercury levels in other fish species.

fr oiltankA riverside petroleum leak in Cherokee has had cleanup crews scrambling since contamination was first discovered in April — and feeling flummoxed the further they’ve probed into the leak’s potential cause.

out frBreathing easy in the Smokies is a better bet than it’s been in decades. Ozone pollution is down 36 percent, and particle pollution has been cut in half. The mountain view on the haziest days now extends nearly four times as far as it did in 1998. Streams harmed by acid rain are starting to recover. 

All stats that are cause for celebration, said a group of air quality leaders gathered on Purchase Knob in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park last week.

fr millThe smokestacks at Evergreen Packaging paper mill in Canton will be significantly cleaner within four years thanks to $50 million in pollution upgrades.

fr riverbendIt’s been 32 years since Benfield Industries in Hazelwood burned to the ground, 25 since the Environmental Protection Agency designated it as a Superfund site and 13 since cleanup on the site finished. 

But the work’s not done, according to the most recent EPA monitoring. The agency is hoping that its latest remediation plan for the former chemical distribution company site will take care of creosote contamination in Hazelwood once and for all. 

fr glenvilleA new health advisory was issued this month warning people about mercury levels in walleye fish in Lake Glenville. This is not exactly news.

“As an obligate piscivore — that is, fish that feed almost exclusively on smaller fish — this species is very prone to mercury bioaccumulation,” explained Susan Massengale, public information officer with the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

Lingering underground contamination at an old Haywood County landfill in Waynesville has prompted the county to buy out a neighboring 25-acre tract, part of a costly plan to stop the spread of pollutants.

The county is purchasing the adjoining property for $850,000. The county estimates it will cost upwards of $5 million over coming years to tackle the contamination. State environmental regulations are forcing the county to fix the issue.

By Avram Friedman

Last year Becky Johnson of The Smoky Mountain News interviewed me about Evergreen Packaging’s plans to convert their electrical power plant from being fueled by coal to natural gas. This transformation was being touted as an advancement that would greatly improve regional air quality as it decreased operating costs due to currently less expensive natural gas. Further incentive was the promise that state government funds, about $12 million, would be made available to subsidize the renovation.

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