“They could have let us file and we could have worked together but he scrambled to prevent us from bringing our own lawsuit,” said Frank Holleman, an attorney with the Southern Environmental Law Center, which tried to sue Duke Energy under the Clean Water Act three times, only to be thwarted by DENR. “They did everything they could to hinder our ability to be effective.”
By allowing the Dan River spill to happen and by allowing it to spread further and further over time, Duke and DENR can accomplish several goals. By letting the contamination spread, Duke avoids a costly cleanup, minimizes its liability, and programs the minds of the public that “the drinking water is safe” because the contamination levels have been deemed “acceptable.” The coal ash contaminants in the river and lakes may be ﬁltered to meet “acceptable” drinking water standards, but the river and lakes remain contaminated.
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.
Of Duke Energy’s Pres./CEO Lynn Good: As the person who “led the treasury functions for the company, as well as insurance, market and credit risk management, and corporate financial planning and analysis,” Ms. Good’s failure of leadership will cost Duke shareholders, customers and North Carolina citizens billions.
The buck stops with Ms. Good. She needs to step down as Duke’s President and CEO. Her culpability in the coal ash disaster is no different than Bernie Madoff whose stole billions from shareholders and who ended up in jail.
But Duke Energy’s days of wanton criminal negligence and the state and the EPA ’s corporate-friendly blessings are over. The coal ash disaster has ended the dirty shroud. Governor Coal Ash McCrory, DENR Czar Skvarla, and Duke Energy President and Chief Executive Officer Lynn (Genghis Khan) Good — and their licenses to decimate — have been revoked by a growing public sentiment that is enraged at the coal ash disaster and that demands reclamation now.