It’s day 110 of my 365 Days of Living Deliberately. I am busy organizing for a meeting this week on a coal ash cleanup. I am in the trenches, calling panelists, community leaders, county commissions, school boards, town councils, spreading the word to all I can. I am going to try to post news again as it happens so that I and others can have a more convenient record.
NC governor proposes new coal ash plan after spill
AP Photo/WaterKeeper Alliance This aerial photo taken at Duke Energy’s Cape Fear Plant on March 10, 2014, by the environmental group WaterKeeper Alliance shows a large crack in the earthen dam holding back millions of tons of toxic coal ash and contaminated waste water. North Carolina regulators inspected the site twice in the following days, but now concede they failed to notice the crack clearly marked with metal stakes and bright orange streamers.
Posted: Wednesday, April 16, 2014 4:15 pm
Associated Press |
RALEIGH — North Carolina’s governor says he will propose new legislation aimed at strengthening government oversight of coal ash dumps following the massive spill at a Duke Energy plant that coated 70 miles of the Dan River in toxic sludge. Gov. Pat McCrory said Wednesday his plan would result in the “conversion or closure” of the dumps and close legal loopholes that allowed Duke to avoid cleaning up groundwater contamination leaching from its 33 unlined ash pits clustered at 14 coal-fired power plants across the state.
McCrory declined to discuss details about his plan at an event in Raleigh on Wednesday, including whether it would require Duke to clean out its ash pits. He said state environment Secretary John Skvarla would address questions about the details of the plan at a later time. McCrory called the plan “innovative” and “aggressive” and would address an issue unresolved for decades. “I’m proud to be the administration that has a plan that we’ve put forward,” McCrory said. “I’m going to let the statement that I released speak for itself and I’m going to let John Skvarla later on — I think today or tomorrow — he’ll be giving more details because it’s a very detailed plan and a very detailed process.”
McCrory also said he will propose adding 19 employees at the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources to ensure dam inspections statewide are done on a more routine basis. Environmentalists are pushing the state to use what they say is its existing legal authority to require Duke to haul more than 100 million tons of the toxic ash away from waterways to lined landfills licensed to handle hazardous waste.
In a letter to the state last month, Duke CEO Lynn Good said the company would remove the ash from its leaky pits at the Dan River plant and another plant while the company studies options at its remaining sites. Among those options is draining contaminated water from the pits and then covering the remaining ash with soil and giant tarps. Peter Harrison, a lawyer with the environmental group WaterKeeper Alliance, said the statement McCrory issued Wednesday appears to adopt Duke’s position. “The governor has left plenty of room for Duke to do nothing more than empty the water out of its ash ponds and cover them with dirt,” Harrison said. “This approach is unacceptable because it would allow these toxic dumps to continue leaking and poisoning our rivers and groundwater supplies with toxic heavy metals for many years to come.”