“It is ridiculous that a private environmental organization can find this discharge and confirm it contains coal ash before federal and state officials can,” she says. “There is no excuse for DENR to allow Duke to continue to put toxins in the Dan River.”
“They tried to keep us from being full parties in the case,” said Frank Holleman, a senior attorney for the law center. “Duke is the lawbreaker. DENR is the law enforcement agency. They are supposed to be protecting the people. Instead, they are working with the lawbreaker to find a way to limit the participation of the citizens groups in the law enforcement proceedings in the way that will benefit the lawbreaker. It’s astonishing.”
Nearly every major river in the Southeast has one or more lagoons on its banks holding slurries of coal ash from power plants. Containing hundreds of thousands of tons of toxin-laden waste, these pools are often unlined and have leaked arsenic, mercury, thallium, selenium, and other contaminants into the rivers and the underlying groundwater for years, if not decades. A report by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency found that unlined coal combustion waste ponds pose a cancer risk 900 times above acceptable levels.
It’s time to get to the root of why our state could have such a terrible disaster as the coal ash disaster here in North Carolina and Virginia. There is no time to waste. Contaminated coal ash is steadily being carried downstream into the Roanoke River Basin, into Kerr and Gaston Lakes. Catching a ride in the currents, the coal ash settles down in pockets and turns, around rocks where the water slows, and then the coal ash sludge lies there waiting to be stirred up by a forceful current, waiting to catch a ride weeks, months, years, decades from now, carrying the promise of poison downstream and up a toxic food chain and into our bloodstreams.
A holistic look by DENR, especially under Governor Coal Ash McCrory and DENR Czar Skvarla, is an obvious oxymoron. What kind of impartial “holistic look” will DENR take concerning the impacts of the coal ash spill, especially in light of the fact that DENR did not take responsibility for allowing Duke to ignore the corrupted metal pipe that collapsed, creating a massive breach in the Eden coal ash pond.
RALEIGH — After much debate over how to deal with coal-ash hazards at Duke Energy power plants in North Carolina, a Wake County Superior Court judge says the answer is to take “immediate” action.
Judge Paul Ridgeway issued a 17-page order on Thursday that seems to cut through years of dithering over the utility’s obligations and what authority the state has to order a prompt response to eliminate an environmental threat.
Exactly what that action should be was not specified.