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Federal Government
Feds Reach Settlement With Paper Companies For Cleanup At Columbus County Cleanup Site PDF Print E-mail
Federal Government
By Donna Martinez   
Wednesday, 24 April 2019 15:13
The Department of Justice and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today announced a settlement with Honeywell International Inc., and International Paper Co., for cleanup of contaminated soils and sediments at the LCP-Holtrachem plant in Riegelwood, Columbus County, North Carolina. The United States brought its action under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), also known as the Superfund Law, and the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA).  The LCP-Holtrachem Superfund Site (the Site) is about 24 acres adjacent to the Cape Fear River at 636 John Riegel Road. From 1963 to 2000, the LCP-Holtrachem plant made chemicals such as sodium hydroxide, liquid chlorine, hydrogen gas, liquid bleach and hydrochloric acid using a mercury cell process.
 
According to the complaint, filed simultaneously with the settlement today in the Eastern District of North Carolina, the two companies are liable for historic industrial discharges of metals, including mercury, and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) at the Site.
 
“This settlement incisively corrects historic environmental issues impinging on the Cape Fear River,” said Assistant Attorney General Jeffrey Bossert Clark of the Department of Justice’s Environment and Natural Resources Division. “The Department of Justice will continue to work with its partners at EPA to ensure that companies are held accountable for past environmental damage as required by CERCLA.”   
 
“Environmental law violations will be vigorously pursued by our office through civil and other enforcement tools, in coordination with our partners at the EPA and U. S. Department of Justice,” said United States Attorney Robert J. Higdon, Jr. of the Eastern District of North Carolina.  “The required full remediation, along with repayment of all EPA response costs, sends a message to polluters that violators will be held accountable for restoring our beautiful rivers and land here in North Carolina.”
 
Under the proposed settlement, Honeywell and International Paper will address contaminated soils and sediments through a combination of in-situ treatment, on-site storage, and off-site treatment and disposal. The two companies will also reimburse the United States for all past and future costs associated with the cleanup. In exchange, the two companies will receive a covenant not to sue and protection from suit by third parties.
 
The two companies previously performed investigations and preliminary cleanup work under prior agreements with EPA. 
 
“The environmental benefits that will result from today’s settlement are a win for the communities near this Superfund site,” said EPA Acting Regional Administrator Mary S. Walker. “This agreement demonstrates EPA’s commitment to hold companies responsible for contamination they caused.”  
 
EPA uses the Superfund Alternative Approach (SAA) for the Site, so it has not been proposed for addition to the National Priorities List (NPL).  Under the SAA, EPA uses the same investigation and cleanup process and standards it uses for NPL sites, and saves the time and resources associated with NPL listing.
 
Honeywell is the current owner of the Site. The Site is contiguous to about 1,300 acres of land owned by International Paper. Since 1951, International Paper has operated a bleached kraft paper mill there, which manufactures paperboard from wood fiber. International Paper used many of the chemicals manufactured at the LCP-Holtrachem plant. Hazardous substances from the LCP-Holtrachem plant were disposed of at the International Paper property and are being addressed under the settlement.  
 
The consent decree is subject to a 30-day public comment period and final approval by the court.  A copy of the consent decree is available on the Department of Justice web site at www.usdoj.gov/enrd/Consent_Decrees.html. Additionally, EPA will hold a public meeting in Riegelwood during the public comment process.
 
Feds Award NC $12 Million Grant To Fight Opioid Abuse PDF Print E-mail
Federal Government
By Administrator   
Wednesday, 24 April 2019 15:05
North Carolina will receive a $12 million grant to continue its fight against the opioid epidemic.The funds will be used for prevention, access to treatment and improved linkages to care. 
 
“The opioid crisis harms families, communities and our economy and we’re tackling it head-on to save lives,” said Governor Roy Cooper. “This grant will help prevent overdose deaths and expand access to treatment, which provides a path to recovery.”
 
This new award comes in addition to $54 million already received from the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). To date, the total funding has provided treatment for 12,000 North Carolinians suffering from opioids. The latest installment of the grant will continue treatment for people already receiving it and expand care to new people. The funding will also help bolster prevention strategies across the state and build mechanisms to connect individuals to care. 
 
An estimated 450,000 North Carolinians – 1 out of every 20 -- are living with an opioid use disorder. Over the past 20 years, more than 12,000 North Carolinians have died from an opioid overdose. In 2018 alone, there were 6,769 emergency visits due to opioid overdoses. Approximately half of people who are hospitalized with an opioid overdose do not have health insurance. 
 
Opioid use disorder is a chronic disease, which requires significant, specialized interventions. Like diabetes, heart disease, and some cancers, opioid use disorder requires long-term treatment, which can be quite costly. Stigma, access to treatment providers, and an inability to pay for treatment keep individuals from obtaining the care they need to live, rejoin the workforce, and support their families and communities. 
 
Expanding Medicaid in North Carolina would help fight the opioid epidemic by enabling more North Carolinians suffering from substance use disorders to get treatment. Medicaid covers a wide range of life-saving treatments for individuals with opioid use disorder, including inpatient and outpatient treatment, rehabilitation and medication assisted treatment (MAT). Those with access to affordable health care through Medicaid are twice as likely as the uninsured to receive treatment.
 
“One of the most powerful tools for addressing the opioid epidemic is providing access to health care through affordable insurance coverage,” said N.C. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Mandy K. Cohen, M.D. “We’ve seen the impact firsthand in states that have expanded access to health insurance. After Ohio closed its insurance coverage gap, 75% of uninsured enrollees with opioid use disorder experienced improved access to care. And Dayton, Ohio – ground zero of the opioid epidemic – saw a 54 percent decrease in opioid deaths. We need every tool in our arsenal to fight this epidemic.” "
 
Turning the tide of the opioid crisis is one of Governor Cooper’s primary goals. North Carolina’s Opioid Action Plan lays out key strategies to achieve this goal, such as reducing the oversupply of prescription opioids and increasing treatment and community awareness. DHHS is currently planning a second Opioid Prevention Summit in June 2019, to engage stakeholders to continue the effort. Learn more and register at http://www.opioidpreventionsummit.org/.
 
As part of Governor Cooper’s focus on eliminating the opioid epidemic, his administration has continually sought out grants for treatments and prevention efforts and issued Executive Order No. 48: Prevention and Treatment of Opioid Use Disorder to pave the way for more federal funding for these efforts.
 
People who need help with treatment or recovery can get help by contacting their Local Management Entity/Managed Care Organization (LME/MCO). To find out which LME/MCO serves your county, visit ncdhhs.gov.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 24 April 2019 15:06
 
Franklinton Man Gets 17-Year Federal Sentence For Child Porn Conviction PDF Print E-mail
Federal Government
By Administrator   
Wednesday, 24 April 2019 13:36
United States District Judge James C. Dever III sentenced Andrew David Phillips, 28, of Franklinton, North Carolina to 210 months imprisonment, followed by 10 years of supervised release.
 
Phillips was named in a Criminal Information filed on February 13, 2018 charging him with Distribution of Child Pornography. On March 20, 2018, he pled guilty to that charge.
 
Based on the investigation, Phillips used a computer to store at least 2,210 images of child pornography. In addition,he traded many of the images and videos with other individuals, in exchange for pornographic images of children.
 
Investigation of this case was conducted by the Raleigh Police Department, as well as the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). Assistant United States Attorney Donald R. Pender represented the government.
 
Tillis Backs Legislation To Help Small Businesses Restructure Debt PDF Print E-mail
Federal Government
By Administrator   
Wednesday, 24 April 2019 12:36

Senators Thom Tillis (R-NC), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Joni Ernst (R-IA) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) recently introduced the bipartisan Small Business Reorganization Act (SBRA). The legislation streamlines existing bankruptcy procedures and provides new tools to improve a small business’ ability to restructure.

“The current one-size-fits-all method that dictates the Chapter 11 bankruptcy process unfairly disadvantages small businesses. This bipartisan legislation is a common sense approach to streamlining existing bankruptcy procedures while also providing new tools for small businesses looking for a successful path through restructuring,” said Senator Tillis

“Our bankruptcy system is designed to help highly complex businesses reorganize after falling on hard times, but for many small businesses going through bankruptcy, these requirements can create unnecessary burdens that stall recovery. The Small Business Reorganization Act takes into account the unique needs of small businesses and streamlines existing reorganization processes. A well-functioning bankruptcy system, specifically for small businesses, allows businesses to reorganize, preserve jobs, maximize the value of assets and ensure the proper allocation of resources,” Senator Grassley said.

Chapter 11 in the bankruptcy code was designed for administering complex business reorganizations involving multi-million dollar companies. Though several provisions specifically focus on small business debtors, a significant amount of research shows that Chapter 11 may still create difficulties for small businesses, including high costs, deficits and procedural roadblocks. The legislation addresses these issues by adding a new subchapter V to Chapter 11 to streamline the bankruptcy process for small business debtors. By reducing liquidations and increasing recoveries to creditors, the bill will lead to more successful restructurings.

Specifically, key provisions of the Small Business Reorganization Act will increase debtors’ ability to negotiate a successful reorganization and retain control of the business, reduce unnecessary procedural burdens and costs and increases oversight and ensures quick reorganization.

The SBRA was crafted in consultation with the National Bankruptcy Conference, American Bankruptcy Institute and National Conference of Bankruptcy Judges and incorporates input from numerous stakeholders ranging from commercial lenders to the U.S. Trustee.

Representative Doug Collins (R-GA) and Representative David Cicilline (D-RI) are working to introduce companion legislation in the House of Representatives..

 
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