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Speech Raises Eyebrows due to Sulfur Plant Omission

Mon, 08/01/2011 - 7:45am

MOREHEAD CITY, N.C. (AP) — A spokeswoman for Gov. Beverly Perdue says the Democrat is aware of the potential for a sulfur pellet warehouse in North Carolina but did not mention it during a recent speech in Morehead City because there are no formal plans in place.

Perdue said earlier this week that PCS Phosphates was canceling plans for a sulfur melting plant, an announcement lauded by community members who had opposed it.

Before the announcement Wednesday evening, the governor's office provided her prepared remarks to The Associated Press. A governor spokesman also verified that the information was OK to use after the speech was under way.

According to the remarks, Perdue was to say the company "also has a plan to bring dry sulfur pellets and store them at the port" but that any such plans would be reviewed.

However, the politician did not mention that during her actual speech, leading some activists to wonder whether the governor was hiding information when she spoke.

Clean County Coalition vice president Leigh Johnson said area residents believe the original plans for the sulfur melting plant and warehouse had been cloaked in secrecy, and they are sensitive to any hint other projects may be moving ahead without public comment.

News of the planned sulfur melting plant became public last month, a year after PCS Phosphates and the ports authority began receiving permits for the project. Citizens objected, claiming the melting plant posed a threat to air and water quality and that moving dry sulfur pellets in and out of storage could cause the volatile chemical to explode.

Perdue spokeswoman Chrissy Pearson said lacking formal warehouse plans, the governor decided to not mention the warehouse in her actual speech. Pearson said the governor is aware a warehouse may be proposed and would be needed for any melting operation.

She says Perdue often diverges from prepared remarks.

PCS spokeswoman Michelle Vaught said the company is reconsidering all its plans for the Morehead City Port.

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