* Duke Energy: Come Clean about Ongoing Dan River Coal Ash Spill

DanRiverSpillSidebySide-300x199Catawba Riverkeeper, Sam Perkins, compares coal ash which forms a 6 inch thick layer on the Dan River bed (left) to the river’s natural sediment (right).

Join concerned Charlotte residents today, Feb 6th, for a protest outside Duke Energy Headquarters.

WHAT:                  Community rally to demand duke clean up its coal ash dumps

WHEN:                  Thursday, February 6, 2014, 12:00 PM

WHERE:                Duke Energy Headquarters, in front of building, 550 South Tryon St, Charlotte NC 28202. View Map

Beyond Coal Logo
Tuesday, February 4, 2014
Contact:
Jenna Garland, Sierra Club, (404) 607-1262 x 222, jenna.garland@sierraclub.org
Kelly Martin, Sierra Club, (828) 423-7845, kelly.martin@sierraclub.org

Duke Energy: Come Clean about Ongoing Dan River Coal Ash Spill

Time to Clean Up Coal Ash in North Carolina

EDEN, NC – On Monday afternoon, Duke Energy announced that a stormwater pipe carrying toxic coal ash had ruptured at its Dan River Steam Station, a retired coal-fired power plant, and has been actively spilling waste since Sunday. More than fifty thousand tons of coal ash have already been spilled with more waste dumped into the river every minute. The two coal ash waste pits at Dan River Steam Station are both designated as “high hazard” by the United States Environmental Protection Agency. Duke Energy owns and operates eight additional high hazard coal ash sites in North Carolina. Coal ash is the waste product left after burning coal to generate electricity, and contains high concentrations of toxic metals like mercury, arsenic and selenium which threaten human health and wildlife.

In response, Kelly Martin, senior campaign representative with the Sierra Club, issued the following statement:

“Because coal ash is so toxic to human health, wildlife and the environment, the Sierra Club calls on Duke Energy to take immediate steps to stop the ongoing spill while ensuring first responders and workers are protected. Today’s events underscore the need to require Duke Energy to immediately and safely close out its two toxic coal ash ponds at the Dan River Steam Station and its additional waste sites across the state.

Duke Energy and the state of North Carolina have known about contamination from aging and dangerous coal ash storage pits for years, yet have taken no action to clean up the waste pits and protect our waterways and our people. In fact, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) only filed an enforcement action against Duke’s unlawful coal ash pits after conservation advocates like the Sierra Club forced their hand. Even then, DENR’s customer-service approach would allow Duke Energy to continue business as usual.

In light of these facts, the Sierra Club calls on both Duke Energy and the State of North Carolina to be fully transparent with the public, releasing accurate and timely information about the scale of this spill and its consequences. As the spill is ongoing, nothing less than full disclosure and cooperation is acceptable.

Just a few months ago, the Sierra Club and our partners at the Southern Environmental Law Center, the Waterkeeper Alliance and the Cape Fear Riverkeeper revealed shocking evidence that coal ash pollution from Duke Energy’s Sutton coal plant has contaminated Sutton Lake and is causing serious, life-threatening mutations in fish. Both the Dan River Steam Station and the Sutton plant no longer burn coal, yet the coal ash continues to have a toxic legacy that lasts beyond a plant’s operation.

Duke Energy operates eight additional high-hazard coal ash waste pits across the state, meaning more waterways and communities remain at risk. The nation’s largest utility company needs to prevent future accidents from toxic coal ash by removing the wet coal ash from these unlined ponds and store it in dry landfills that are safe and clean.  Until then, the coal ash sites across the state are disasters waiting to happen.

By the end of 2014, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will release its first-ever regulations for the disposal of this toxic waste product. But this deadline alone is not enough. North Carolina cannot afford more coal ash spills. We cannot bear the costs of more groundwater pollution and contamination. It is time to close the dangerous, unlined ash pits like those Duke Energy operates in North Carolina.”

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