It is day 75 of my 365 Days of Living Deliberately blog. Today I sent out the following press release that informs the public of the upcoming coal ash Town Hall meeting in Eden, NC where the coal ash pond breached into the Dan River. My press release focuses on getting the public to understand that Duke Energy and state officials are purposefully ignoring the Dan River disaster while they focus on the other 34 coal ash sites that need to be moved.
It’s as if the state purposefully plans to allow the Dan River, Kerr Lake, and Gaston Lake to be destroyed forever. I believe that as the public really understands what is going on, that a broad-based coalition of citizens who draw water from the waterways, of those who fish and recreate in and on them, as well as businesses and realtors, will join and demand and get a cleanup. It will take a lot of work to accomplish this cleanup, but without it, much of North Carolina is doomed to disease, untimely death, and a reputation that will destroy the state’s economy. March 16, 2014 To: NC and VA Citizens and the News Media From: Deborah and Ken Ferruccio, Citizens for Coal Ash Spill Cleanup (252) 257-2604 (919) 610-6234
Subject: Emergency Cleanup of Coal Ash Spill by Duke Energy and DENR Must Begin Immediately!
North Carolinians and Virginians who depend on the Roanoke River Basin are demanding that Duke Energy and DENR do whatever it takes to return state waters to the quality that they were before the Eden coal ash pond discharge and that Duke Energy immediately initiate emergency coal ash spill cleanup efforts with similar appropriate hydraulic suction (vacuuming) dredging technology used successfully in the Hudson River and Great Lakes cleanups.
Citizens are urged to attend a Coal Ash Spill Cleanup Town Hall Meeting in Eden, NC, on Monday, March 17th at 6:00 pm and to demand that Duke and state ofﬁcials begin emergency cleanup efforts of the breached coal ash.
Without taking emergency measures to stop the coal ash contaminants from continuing to inundate and decimate the Dan River and Kerr and Gaston Lakes — the water supply to millions for drinking water, agriculture, business, recreation and tourism — Duke Energy and DENR are conﬁrming plans for their government-backed license to pollute with impunity in North Carolina.
In fact, new leadership is necessary because the relationship between Duke Energy, Governor McCrory, and DENR is clearly compromised. According to the Independent, “DENR ran interference for Duke Energy and let the Dan River spill happen.” One of the reasons is implicit in Duke Energy President and CEO Lynn Good’s recent letter to Governor McCrory and DENR Secretary Skvarla that outlines in detail Duke’s remediation procedures along with a time-line for their dozens of coal ash pond removal plans. No mention is made in the letter of cleaning up the enormous amount of coal ash already discharged in the Eden breach, only that Duke “will continue to work [hand-in-glove] with state and federal agencies as we determine next steps needed for the river.”
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.
Duke Energy has determined that the expedient and cheapest way to prevent future massive discharges is to dewater its dozens of coal ash ponds by discharging the contaminated coal ash liquid into the surrounding waterways at “acceptable” levels over several years.
There are also similar dewatering plans that threaten North Carolina and Virginia’s water quality with the mining of uranium in Virginia at the headwaters of the Roanoke River Basin. Radioactive mine tailings waste liquid would also be discharged into state waterways as a standard operation procedure (VA Uranium Working Group, Final Report, 34. Print).
Duke’s purposeful contamination is criminal; it is outrageous and is unacceptable. If emergency cleanup efforts to remove the spilled coal ash from North Carolina waterways are not begun in good faith and immediately by Duke Energy and DENR, a coalition of citizens and environmental, civil rights, business, and ecumenical organizations will press for new leadership, starting with the resignation of Duke CEO Lynn Good and DENR Secretary Skvarla.