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.
“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.
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and Duke Energy President and Chief Executive Officer Lynn (Genghis Khan) Good — and their licenses to decimate — have been revoked by a growing public sentiment that is enraged at the coal ash disaster and that demands reclamation now.
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.