Dan River Coal Ash Disaster Update and What Can I Do About It?

Coal Ash Can

We’ve been actively working with our environmental partners on this issue. In case you haven’t been able to stay caught up to the news reports and public outrage, here’s an update.

After you’ve read this are you as pissed as I am? So what can we do?

First, send Duke Energy CEO Lynn Good a strong message!Sign the Petition: Tell Duke to clean up its coal ash

Second, write a Letter to the Editor (LTE).  Now would be an excellent time for letters to the editor.  Especially for those of you that live near another coal ash site.  You can find that out at http://www.southeastcoalash.org/.  And there is ongoing, updated information about the Dan River spill at http://www.southeastcoalash.org/?page_id=3337.

If you write a letter, here are some of the points you could make:

  1. Duke Energy has 13 additional sites statewide where wet coal ash is stored in unlined pits in the ground behind old, earthen dams.  These are disasters waiting to happe
  2. The coal ash should be removed and stored in a dry landfill.  That’s what SC utilities are doing, that that’s what Duke Energy should do here (and pay for).
  3. Dan River is an example of what happens when we don’t have adequate regulations– state or federal.  The EPA is finalizing its rules on coal ash now, and this disaster should exemplify why we need a strong rule.

Third, ask your friends, neighbors, co-workers, family members, etc. to do the same.

Thanks so much!

News Reports

N.C. now says Dan River arsenic levels unsafe after Duke ash spill (Charlotte Business Journal) — N.C. environmental officials now confirm arsenic levels in the Dan River exceeded state standards for at least two days following the coal ash spill a week ago from a shuttered Duke Energy plant. http://www.bizjournals.com/charlotte/blog/power_city/2014/02/nc-now-says-dan-river-arsenic-wereunsafe-after.html?ana=e_clt_bn

Duke Energy issues apology for NC coal ash spill (AP) — A top executive at Duke Energy has apologized for the company’s massive coal ash spill in North Carolina and pledged to clean up its toxic waste from the Dan River. http://www.reflector.com/ap/statef/duke-energy-issues-apology-nc-coal-ash-spill-2359063

Duke Energy belatedly pledges to overhaul coal-ash storage, after destroying river | Grist Grist ⋅ John Upton For years, environmentalists in North Carolina have been pressuring and suing Duke Energy in an attempt to get the company to clean up its coal-ash https://www.google.com/url?q=http://grist.org/news/duke-energy-belatedly-pledges-to-overhaul-coal-ash-storage-after-destroying-river/

Environmentalists say N.C. river is ‘toxic soup’ after coal ash spillEnergy officials and environmentalists are making conflicting statements about the human and environmental safety of water in North Carolina’s Dan River, in which tens of thousands of tons of coal ash spilled from a defunct energy plant earlier this week. http://america.aljazeera.com/articles/2014/2/6/environmentalistssayncriveristoxicsoupaftercoalashspill.html

Sharp disagreement over effects of N.C. coal ash spill (LA Times) — Environmentalists and the nation’s largest electric utility seem to describe two different rivers in the wake of the third-largest coal ash spill in U.S. history. The Dan River is either recovering just fine or it has been poisoned by pollution from toxic heavy metals that will last for years. http://www.latimes.com/nation/la-na-coal-ash-spill-20140209,0,3515834.story#axzz2sp5O5zmB

Coal ash ponds ‘disasters waiting to happen’ (Greensboro News & Record) — It’s not just major spills that concern environmentalists. Leaks are also an issue with the containment ponds. http://www.news-record.com/news/article_2c95f018-9150-11e3-9bd2-001a4bcf6878.html

Inspections show warning signs of leaks at Dan River  (WNCN-TV) — WNCN Investigates looked at inspections of the Dan River Steam Station after 82,000 tons of coal ashes mixed with 27 million gallons of contaminated water escaped leaky drainage pipe running under a 27-acre waste pond collapsed Feb. 2. http://www.wncn.com/story/24672183/inspections-show-warning-signs-of-leaks-at-dan-river-site

TVA customers paying for ‘08 spill (AP) — Tennessee Valley Authority’s customers are paying for part of the cleanup of the 2008 coal fly ash slurry spill at the authority’s Kingston Fossil Plant. http://www.news-record.com/news/article_685b8b48-9151-11e3-bec0-001a4bcf6878.html

Editorials

Inquiry into waste, coal ash spills appropriate (Burlington Times News) — While Burlington had its own recent environmental problem to deal with, it’s easy for people here to overlook the enormity of what happened in nearby Eden last week on the Dan River. They shouldn’t. It’s a monumental problem with short and long-term effects. http://www.thetimesnews.com/opinion/our-opinion/inquiry-into-waste-coal-ash-spills-appropriate-1.274291

Will Duke customers foot bill for spill? (Lynchburg News and Advance) — The TVA’s customers are paying for part of the clean-up of the 2008 coal fly ash slurry spill at TVA’s Kingston Fossil Plant. They are getting hit with 67 cents per month over a decade to pay for it, said Gabriel Wisniewski, energy campaign director for Greenpeace USA. More than $1 billion has been spent cleaning up the disaster, and some of it came out of the company’s bottom line. Wisniewski said Danville residents should be wary of anything Duke Energy tells the public following Sunday’s coal ash spill in Eden, N.C., that dumped almost 82,000 tons of toxic coal ash and 27 million gallons of contaminated water into the Dan River. http://www.newsadvance.com/news/state/will-duke-customers-foot-bill-for-spill/article_66b0244a-5bfc-5620-8402-3ec13c3f7c96.html

Ash spill shows need for strong oversight (Rocky Mount Telegram) — The spill of about 82,000 tons of toxic coal ash and 27 million gallons of contaminated water last week into the Dan River is not only a major ecological disaster but also a grim reminder that state and environmental watchdog agencies should not shorted on the crucial resources they need. http://www.rockymounttelegram.com/opinion/our-views/ash-spill-shows-need-strong-oversight-2359047

Coal-ash spill shows potential threat to environment (Wilmington Star-News) — It is the scenario Cape Fear River Watch and other environmental groups feared could happen. http://www.starnewsonline.com/article/20140208/ARTICLES/140209694/1108/opinion?Title=Editorial-Coal-ash-spill-shows-potential-threat-to-environment

Diary of a Dying Country (Bill Moyers column) — On Tuesday afternoon, Duke Energy in North Carolina released a press statement announcing that somewhere between 50,000 and 82,000 tons of coal ash, which created some 27 million gallons of water polluted with heavy metals and other poisons, had been accidentally dumped into the Dan River, near the towns of Danville and Eden. Eden, because God, or Fate and definitely the coal industry have a vicious sense of humor. Duke Energy waited 24 hours to report the spill. They may not have said anything at all, but a security guard noticed an unusually low water level in what is called an “ash pond,” which is where this crud is stored. That low water level means most of the poison had escaped into the river by the time it was discovered. … Unlike the energy policies that are filling the rivers and the air with poison, drying up the water out West while making the tap water back East flammable, speaking your mind does no harm. Who knows? They may even listen. Stranger things have happened, and you still have time, because the seas have not risen to reclaim us. Yet. http://billmoyers.com/2014/02/07/diary-of-a-dying-country/

Eden ash spill highlights government laxity (Fayetteville Observer) — At the most basic level, government is there to protect us. Whether it’s our police, industrial-safety inspectors or environmental regulators, http://www.fayobserver.com/opinion/editorials/article_3f047433-ec96-5546-8c29-8e4b1f1f403f.html

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