Help Us Hold Duke Energy Accountable

North Carolina Chapter Sierra Club

Dear Friends,

Since millions of gallons of toxic coal ash and contaminated water spilled from an unlined Duke Energy waste pit into the Dan River in February, there’s been a lot of talk, but little action.

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This image is of the coal ash spill at Duke Energy’s plant on the Dan River.  Photo credit: Wake Forest University Center for Energy, Environment & Sustainability.

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Last week, Gov. McCrory sent a letter to Duke Energy asking the company to provide options and costs for removing their toxic coal ash from unlined pits near our waterways.  He gave them the deadline of March 15 to respond.

That doesn’t mean the state will take action. But you can help change that.

It is long overdue for Duke Energy to clean up its act. That’s why we are raising $37,000 by March 15th to hold Duke Energy accountable. That’s $1,000 for every coal ash pit in North Carolina.

That’s right.  There are 37 of these unlined coal ash pits, most of them near waterways.  And with your help, we can pressure them to move these toxic coal ash pits away from our waterways and into high and dry lined landfills.

It’s easy for politicians to call for solutions in a time of emergency.  But real leadership is shown when those calls to action turn into enforceable laws with deadlines for clean up.

By acting now, you can mobilize public support across the state to call upon legislators to hold Duke Energy accountable.  Your support will rally our 50,000 members and supporters– a presence in all 100 of North Carolina’s counties–who are well positioned to take on this challenge. Please join us today in this cause!

And with more than four decades of experience in advocating for the environment before the North Carolina General Assembly and Executive branch, we are well-prepared to take this on.

Click here to help make sure that Duke Energy cleans up its toxic coal ash pits!

For people who live and play on the Dan River, things may never be the same.  But you can help make a difference for other communities across the state.

Sincerely,

Molly Diggins
State Director of the NC Sierra Club
P.S. – Every dollar you give stays right here in North Carolina. Please help us reach our fundraising goal of $37,000 to help our work to hold the Governor and legislators accountable and urge them to find cleanup solutions for the 37 toxic coal ash pits that threaten our waterways.

Charlotte Environment Committee to Vote on Weakening Water Protections – Apr 2, 9:00 AM

The location of the Environment Committee meeting scheduled for tomorrow at 9:00 a.m. has changed.  The Committee will now meet at the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Government Center, Room 266.

The committee will hear a recommendation from City staff members and vote on weakening the Post Construction Control Ordinance (PCCO).  Check back for additional information on this issue.

 

Charlotte Enviro Comm Apr 2 2014

Protect NC Waters – Mixing does not equal fixing for Jordan Lake

North Carolina Chapter Sierra Club

Dear Friends,

Jordan Lake needs science based solutions to control pollution, not wasteful water mixers.

Jordan Lake is a drinking water source for 300,000 people in the triangle.

Jordan Lake image

take action

You may recall that the state legislature abandoned clean up plans for Jordan Lake last year. The Jordan Lake Rules were adopted in 2009 in an effort to clean up the lake, which is a popular recreation destination and a source of drinking water for 300,000 people. Those clean-up rules were abandoned for three years. This was the third legislative delay of the clean up plan.

Instead of sticking with the science-based plan to prevent pollution, the legislature directed nearly $2 million in taxpayer funds to a lease of 36 floating water mixers. Water mixers aim to reduce algae, but cannot reduce the inflow of pollution into Jordan Lake. Meanwhile, developers are getting a three year reprieve from requirements to control their pollution.

The Army Corps of Engineers has the final say in whether or not the water mixers can be anchored in the lake. The Corps has released an Environmental Assessment (available here) which evaluates the water mixers. The public comment period for this project is ending soon! Don’t miss your chance to speak up and protect Jordan Lake. 

There are a lot of reasons to be concerned about putting water mixers in Jordan Lake, take action today!

Learn about some of the reasons that replacing the science-based Jordan Lake Rules with water mixers is a bad idea. Then email your comments to the Army Corps of Engineers.

Thanks for all you do,

Zak Keith
Lead Organizer, NC Sierra Club
P.S. – Your chance to speak up for Jordan Lake is now! Click here to send your comments the Army Corps of Engineers today!

Charlotte City Council to Consider Airport Coal Ash Disposal – Mar 24, 4:00 PM

Today, March 24th, the Charlotte City Council will meet at 4:00 PM in Room 267 of the Government Charlotte-Mecklenburg Government Center, 600 East Fourth St., Charlotte, NC 28202 to consider the plan for the Riverbend coal ash disposal. Below is information about the meeting as well as some background information.

Riverbend Coal Ash City Council Meeting 03-24-14

The City will only be voting on whether to move forward with gathering information and studying this possibility.

Background Information

Records show Duke, Charlotte came close to airport coal ash plan in 2013
By Ely Portillo
March 18, 2014

But through a public records request Tuesday, the Observer received documents showing that the plan had progressed to the point of having a draft contract ready, a draft statement announcing the project and plans for an Oct. 28 presentation to City Council.
On Friday, the city said in a press release that it was “invited to review” Duke’s proposal last week. But documents show city staff had already honed their message for the public and elected officials last year, as the proposal moved toward fruition.
Deputy City Manager Ron Kimble signed a confidentiality agreement Aug. 9, promising not to disclose the proposal.
“The City of Charlotte is evaluating how each partner takes measures to ensure that coal combustion products are not hazardous and are safe,” the draft statement read. One city staffer circled that phrase and noted, “I’ve said above it is safe, so why (are) we evaluating?”
Read more here: http://www.newsobserver.com/2014/03/18/3712987/records-show-duke-charlotte-came.html

Coal Ash Could Help Airport, But Waste Ponds Have More Pollutants
By Ben Brasford
March 14, 2014
Charah_Ash_Landfill

For the past seven years, Duke has been providing coal ash for landfill to the Asheville Regional Airport for no cost. A similar deal in Charlotte would be right up the alley of an airport that prides itself on the lowest-cost of its size in the nation. That is, Phocas says, if it is safe.
“We still need to take a look at—even if we are fully encapsulating it—what are the risks to the residents, to the water quality, too,” he says.

Read more here: http://wfae.org/post/coal-ash-could-help-airport-waste-ponds-have-more-pollutants


Details scant on plan to put coal ash at Charlotte Douglas

By Ely Portillo
March 14, 2014

Environmental advocates said Duke’s proposal could be a better solution for the ash than where it sits now, next to the lake that provides drinking water for Charlotte.
But they still see potential problems, such as the airport’s proximity to the Catawba River, streams that drain to Lake Wylie and groundwater sources for residents, and the sheer number of unanswered questions about the plan.
“A lot depends on the execution,” said Rick Gaskins, executive director of the Catawba Riverkeeper Foundation. His group will also present to City Council.
“Is it perfect? Is it what I’d like to see and do in the future? Maybe not, but it is important to get this ash off the drinking water of 830,000 people.”
See also – Read the letter from Duke Energy to Charlotte officials and Duke Energy proposes storing coal ash at Charlotte Douglas International Airport

Read more here: http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2014/03/14/4766263/details-scant-on-plan-to-put-coal.html

Don’t Miss a Fracking Good Time! – March 27

Please make plans to take part in a powerful event this March 27th at 6:30 PM! Charlotte is one of only 2 North Carolina locations chosen for the national fracked communities tour. You’ll definitely want to hear the stories and learn how we can help protect our air, water, and lands.

STFA-NC-Tour-Meme-5

Can you join us on Thursday, March 27th at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Charlotte to hear how fracked communities are fighting back?

Fracking wells, industrial zones, and contaminated water. Those are the realities that people across the country are living with where fracking exists. We know that North Carolina isn’t worth the risk, and some friends are coming to town to help us fight back.

“Cautionary Tales of Fracked Communities,” a nationwide speakers tour, is coming to Charlotte to help us in our fight. It’s a chance to hear from people living in the shadow of gas rigs, and learn how they are fighting back.

Thursday March 27 at 6:30 PM

Unitarian Universalist Church of Charlotte

 

234 North Sharon Amity Road

Charlotte, NC 28211

Speakers will include:

  • Karen Feridun, a grassroots activist from Kutztown, PA who is fighting against fracking in her community. She helped convince the Pennsylvania Democratic party to add a Fracking Moratorium to their party platform.
  • Jill Wiener, small business owner turned activist from New York who has been leading the charge to keep fracking out of New York.
  • Robert Nehman, a father from Iowa whose life was turned upside down after frac sand mining came to his town

The second part of the meeting will be a training on how to meet with elected officials.

Together, we can keep fracking out of North Carolina, and ensure that the next series of cautionary tales aren’t from the Tarheel state.

See you there!

Fracking Tour Sponsors

NC Sierra Club Footnotes Online – March 2014

North Carolina Chapter Sierra Club

Dear Friends,

Before long, 55 days to be exact, the 2014 session of the legislature will convene in Raleigh.

But please don’t wait until May 14 to ask your legislator to take action to close down Duke Energy’s unlined coal ash ponds that are threatening our state’s rivers and groundwater!

Whether you’ve never met your state legislator in before, or if you’ve  known him or her all your life –  now is the time to talk coal ash. Calls, email and personal  meetings with legislators to rally support for a ban on wet coal ash ponds is urgently needed. To get involved with the Sierra Club’s Volunteer Lobby Corps, please contact chapter organizer Zak Keith (zak.keith@sierraclub.org).

But the Sierra Club isn’t only about protecting our natural resources–it’s also all about promoting and exploring them.

Much of this March newsletter is dedicated to North Carolina’s wilderness areas. There’s a contest for folks who want to visit all of the wilderness areas in North Carolina. We also have tons of outings coming up for you to join.   Four of them are coming up this Saturday!

We hope you enjoy this issue of Footnotes, and are getting geared up for an action packed year ahead of us!

With warm wishes,

Your staff at the NC Sierra Club

Coal Ash Update

You know the basics by now.  Nearly 40,000 tons of coal ash ran into the Dan River last month. Since then, the news has been changing every day.  That’s why we have a Coal Ash Updates page on our website.

To stay current on the latest from news outlets all over the country about what’s happening right here in our back yard,  bookmark the Coal Ash Updates page, and you will always have the most recent news on the coal ash spill!

What’s in Your Lake?

Jordan Lake - Background - convio123.jpgjlaa action button123.png

You likely remember that the state legislature froze protections for Jordan Lake last year. The Jordan Lake Rules were adopted in 2009 in an effort to clean up the lake, which is a popular recreation destination and a source of drinking water for 300,000 people. Last year, those clean-up rules were delayed for three years and, instead, the legislature directed nearly $2 million in taxpayer funds to a pilot project to lease 36 floating water mixers. Meanwhile, developers will get a three year reprieve from having to control the runoff that is plaguing the Lake.

Click here to tell the Army Corps of Engineers to protect Jordan Lake.

The Army Corps of Engineers? Yes. The Corps has the final say in whether or not the water mixers can go into the lake There are a lot of reasons to be concerned about the water mixers in Jordan Lake.

Click here to read about some of the reasons that replacing the long negotiated Jordan Lake Rules with water mixers is a bad idea. And then send your thoughts on to the Army Corps of Engineers.

Calling All Politicos (For Members Only!)

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Don’t miss this opportunity to deepen your knowledge and learn from the best.  Join Chapter Political Committee Chair Harry Johnson & former chair Ken Brame as they cover the basics of the Sierra Club Political Committee and get you ready for the ever exciting political season ahead. The training will be held on Saturday, March 22, 2014 from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm in Greensboro. Registration is required (but it’s also free).

The meeting is for Sierra Club members who want to participate in this year’s elections on any level. Topics for the day include: an overview of the political landscape, introduction to the endorsement process, building a local political committee, managing a volunteer field campaign, and more!

Click here to register today to make sure you are prepared to make a difference in this year’s political campaigns in your community!

Are You Up for the Challenge? Get Ready to Explore Our Wild NC

Wilderness Explorer Patch.jpg

This time of year, Sierrans are ready for winter to be over and outdoor adventures to begin in earnest.  This year, they are in for a treat.  The Wilderness Committee has announced the Explore Our Wild NC Challenge. The only question is: are you up for it?

To celebrate the 30th anniversary of the NC Wilderness Act and to increase awareness about our state’s 12 wilderness areas and 5 study areas, the NC Sierra Club is offering a certificate and limited edition patch to anyone who visits all of these areas.

We cannot think of a better way to experience our state than getting outdoors and exploring every one of its true wilderness areas. Click here if you want more information or have already decided that you want to register for the challenge.

Wilderness Study Areas

To celebrate the 30th anniversary of the North Carolina Wilderness Act, each month we will highlight a wilderness area or a piece of history about how these areas became protected.  This month, we celebrate the Wilderness Study Areas in our state.

Wilderness Study Areas (WSAs) share many of the same characteristics of designated Wilderness Areas but have not yet received full designation by the US Congress.  There are five WSAs protected by the US Forest Service in North Carolina.

In Nantahala National Forest we have Overflow Creek and Snowbird. In Pisgah National Forest, we have Harper Creek, Lost Cove and Craggy Mountain totaling 25,816 acres.  Most were set aside by the NC Wilderness Act of 1984 and have since been recommended for wilderness designation, however some have been threatened with declassification.

These areas could potentially be impacted through the comprehensive revision to the Nantahala and Pisgah National Forests’ Land Management Plan which is currently underway.  Please see these documents which were released earlier this week for more information about the revision plan: Scoping Letter from the US Department of Agriculture and An Explanation of the Need to Change the Plan.

Many Wilderness Study Areas were first identified by the Forest Service’s Roadless Area Review and Evaluation (RARE) of 1972 and the RARE II report of 1979, which was more thorough.  Although restrictions for usage are less stringent, WSAs are intended to receive the same protection from development as Wilderness Areas until such time as Congress decides to take action.

Click here to learn more about these study areas. Maybe then you can start planning your next hiking trip!

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Featured Wilderness Outing!

April 5 – Harper Creek Waterfalls in Harper Creek and Lost Cove Study Areas

This hike is part of the Our Wild North Carolina Celebration!  This is an easy day hike about 7 miles total. The falls are about 200 feet high and are in the Wilderness Study Area which is nestled in the adjacent areas of Avery, Burke and Caldwell Counties. Aside from the falls, the study areas are a regular nesting site for Peregrine falcons.

You will need to bring lunch, water, and rain gear. For more information call Joel Wooten at 336-466-1314 before 9:00 pm at or email him at joeltotopmountain@gmail.com.  Wilderness outings are limited to 10 hikers.

Inner City Outings Program

barber-hike.jpgKaran Barber, Charlotte ICO Chair, leads a recent outing.

Charlotte Inner City Outings officially announced the launch of a new program to connect area youth with nature. Inner City Outings (ICO), is a community outreach program of the Sierra Club that seeks to provide urban youth and adults with positive outdoor experiences. The goal of Charlotte ICO is to allow participants to discover the beauty of wild places and learn how to enjoy and protect our wild environments.

The Charlotte ICO Group will work with local agencies and community centers to lead hikes and other outings. The program is made possible by its volunteers who give generously of their time and skills to participate in training, receive first aid education, and lead outings. All ICO volunteer leaders undergo special training and screening to work with youth.

Individuals, agencies, and organizations that are interested in supporting or participating in Charlotte ICO should contact Karan Barber at Karan@e-corps.org or (704) 588-3297. The only experience required is a passion to share enthusiasm for kids, teaching, the outdoors, and having fun.

For more information see the Charlotte ICO website, http://charlottesierraclub.org/outings/inner-city-outings/, and the Sierra Club ICO Website, http://content.sierraclub.org/outings/ico.

Upcoming Events

April 25 -  2nd Annual Sustainability Summit: The Planet, People, Economy, & Community – Wilson, NC

This event is presented by Wilson Community College, Upper Coastal Plain Council of Governments, NC Sierra Club Medoc Chapter, and the Wilson Sustainable Community Council.

With a comprehensive agenda, and less than 100 tickets remaining, this year’s summit is surely going to be a hot event!  Don’t miss your chance to be a part of the 2nd Annual Sustainability Summit. Click here to get your ticket today!

May 3-4 – Sierra Club Outings Leader Training – Sesquicentennial State Park, Columbia, SC

If you want to be a new Sierra Club Outings Leader, or if you want to renew or expand your current training, this training is for you!!!!

Training will cover:

  • OLT101 – Basic outdoor leadership training and a requirement for all Sierra Club Outings Leaders that must be renewed every 4 years.
  • OLT201  – Advanced outdoor leadership training,  recommended for all leaders and required for any Outings Leader who wants to lead Level 2 outings (outings that are overnight and away from cars).
  • Watercraft Safety – Recommended for anyone who wants to lead canoe/kayak outings.
  • CPR/First Aid – Basic first aid is required for all Sierra Club Outings leaders and must be renewed every 4 years.

Open to all current Sierra Club members. Click here to sign up!

For more information, contact: Kelly Mieszkalski, North Carolina Chapter Outings Chair, (919) 624-2225 or kellymieszkalski@yahoo.com

Upcoming Outings

March 22 – 8:00 a.m. – Guided Bird Walk at Sandy Creek Park – Durham

As part of Durham’s Annual Creek Week celebration activities, the Headwaters Group of the Sierra Club will be hosting a guided bird walk around Sandy Creek. The terrain is rather flat but may be a bit wet in spots–please wear closed toed shoes and bring your camera and binoculars! You will be able to share binoculars if you don’t have your own, so don’t let that keep you from coming!

Led by two wonderful bird guides, there will be two smaller groups walking around the park. The guides are Brian Bockhahn, a State Park Education Ranger, and Robert Meehan, a local expert birder. All attendees (at all Creek Week events) will get a raffle ticket to win one of two Ivy Rain Barrels, courtesy of the City of Durham.

This outing is limited to 24 participants. Click here to RSVP via our Meetup. You may also RSVP by contacting Kelly at kellymieszkalski@yahoo.com (or 919.624.2225).

March 22 – 9:00 a.m. – Cook’s Wall Loop, Hanging Rock State Park – Hanging Rock

The hike will begin on the Hanging Rock trail but leave it to ascend the ridge line to Wolf Rock, on to House Rock and Cook’s Wall, and return via Magnolia Springs trail and the lake. Major views will be enhanced along the way by the bare trees. Hike length is about 6.5 miles with a 500 feet elevation gain.

Bring water, lunch, rain gear and wear hiking footwear. For more information contact Tom Mann at  twmann@bellsouth.net or 336-760-0265 (before 9:00 p.m.).

March 22 – 10:00 a.m. – Backpacking Conditioning in Umstead – Raleigh

Join Sierrans for a backpacking conditioning hike to test your trail legs! The group will cover about 6 miles in 3 hours using a combination of trails and old fire roads. Along the way folks will talk about the gear in your backpack and best practices for minimizing the load.

Meet in the Reedy Creek parking lot in back right corner by 9:45 am. Look for the orange Honda Element with LOTS of stickers on the back. The entrance is located off I-40 at exit 287. Map to parking lot: http://goo.gl/maps/VcigC

Group size is limited to 15 to minimize impact on the ecosystem. Please contact trip leaders, Debra & Jeff Rezeli, at rezeli@bellsouth.net or 919-971-3788 for more information.

March 22 – 10:00 a.m. – Green River Gamelands – Pullium Creek Trail – near Asheville

This hike is moderate with some easy level of difficulty. The trip will be approximately 6.5 miles round-trip on this there & back trail with elevation gain of 900 ft. The group will meet in Asheville at 10 am and return about 5:45 p.m.. It’s a beautiful trail that ends up at the Green River just below the narrows, with rapids moving through large boulders. On the way, there’s a tedious creek crossing with wiggly step-stones, so wear good footwear and consider a hiking pole. Plan to learn about the beautiful early-blooming wildflowers there as well.

NOTE: Sorry, no doggies this trip due to Pullium Creek crossing. Hike leader Lisa McWherter at lisamcw2@gmail.com or 828-713-4994.

April 5 – Harper Creek Waterfalls in Harper Creek and Lost Cove Study Areas

This hike is part of the Our Wild North Carolina Celebration!  This is an easy day hike about 7 miles total. The falls are about 200 feet high and are in the Wilderness Study Area which is nestled in the adjacent areas of Avery, Burke and Caldwell Counties. Aside from the falls, the study areas are a regular nesting site for Peregrine falcons.

You will need to bring lunch, water, and rain gear. For more information call Joel Wooten at 336-466-1314 before 9:00 pm at or email him at joeltotopmountain@gmail.com.  Wilderness outings are limited to 10 hikers.

April 19- Grandfather Mountain Photography Workshop – Grandfather Mountain

Join the Sierra Club Foothills Group’s own award-winning 19-year old nature photographer, Avery Locklear, for a free outdoor photography workshop along the scenic Profile Trail at Grandfather Mountain State Park.  Ms. Locklear, who also serves as Vice Chair for the Foothills Group, will be sharing her expertise for capturing the mountainous landscapes and the rare flowers of springtime at Grandfather Mountain. Be sure to check out Avery’s nature and wildlife photography on her website: http://www.averylocklearphotography.com

This photo hike and workshop is open to photographers of all ages and is family-friendly. Bring a camera of any kind, a tripod if you have one, water, and lunch. Because the weather at Grandfather Mountain can vary a great deal, dress in layers and be sure to include a  wind-resistant outer layer. Advance registration is required; the event will be limited to 15 participants. To register, please contact Vance Parker by April 15, 2014 at vance@vparkerlaw.com or at (336) 768-0481 before 10:00 p.m.

April 26- Discover Mountain Biking Adventure in the Great Smokey Mountains – Bryson City area

Join the Sierra Club and the Nantahala Outdoor Center (NOC), the Southeast’s premiere outdoor adventure outfitter, for a big day of mountain biking in the Smoky Mountains. This full day instructional activity is a great introduction to the sport of mountain biking. Get correctly fitted on your mountain bike and outfitted with the proper gear. Then head up to the Flint Ridge trail system to learn the basic skills needed to enjoy the sport of mountain biking. You will learn the basics in proper riding position, cornering, braking, shifting and riding skills.After lunch you will head to Tsali National Recreation Area, the “Southeast’s mountain biking mecca”, to test out your newly acquired skills by riding one of 4 different loops.  This course emphasizes the sport of mountain biking, and enjoying the scenery and camaraderie of riding. Please see:  http://www.noc.com/noccom/adventures/biking/mountain-biking/

The cost for this program, which includes one of NOC’s sturdy Specialized mountain bikes adjusted to the rider, a helmet, instruction, and a full day of riding is $119 per person.  The charge for participants with their own mountain bike is $79/person.  Camping will be available at Turkey Creek Campground near Tsali National Recreation Area on Friday night April 25th and Saturday night April 26th for $10/person plus $4/vehicle.  Guests may remain in the area Sunday for more mountain biking, hiking, whitewater rafting, or zip lining conducted on their own.

This outing will be limited to 15 people with registration closing on April 12th, 2014.  Please register in advance of this date with Vance Parker, at e-mail vance@vparkerlaw.com or by telephone before 10:00 p.m. at 336-768-0481.

April 26- Beginner Backpacking in Uwharrie National Forest – Montgomery County

Join Sierrans to test your beginner backpacking skills in the little known Uwharrie National Forest, less than 2 hours from the Triangle. Then group will cover about 12 miles over 2 days using the Uwharrie Trail and Dutchman’s Creek Trail..

Those who can will meet in Raleigh at 8:00 am for caravaning to the Wood Run Trailhead, where the group will set out on foot down the Uwharrie Trail. Participants will backpack approximately 6 miles on Saturday and set up camp along Big Island Creek. Sunday morning the will pack up and continue back to the trailhead on the Dutchman’s Creek Trail, about 6 miles.

Group size for this trip is limited to 5 tents/15 people due to space restrictions of campsite. Please contact trip leaders at rezeli@bellsouth.net or 919-971-3788 for more information.

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Did you know you can make a monthly gift to the NC Sierra Club? Find out how you can make a sustaining gift by visiting our website, or contacting the Chapter office at 919-833-8467.

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New Sierra Club Ad Campaign Pressures EPA for Strong Water Protections from Coal Ash

Check out the great new ad campaign running in D.C. and some North Carolina markets! The bucket image is from the Dan River Coal Ash Disaster and there are 4 versions.

Thirsty Ad 1

Sierra Club’s New Ad Campaign Pressures EPA on Coal Ash

Monday, March 17, 2014

For Immediate Release:
March 17, 2014

Contact:
Sean Sarah, Sierra Club 330 338-3740 sean.sarah@sierraclub.org

New Sierra Club Ad Campaign in D.C. Metro Pressures EPA for Strong Water Protections from Coal Ash

*View the Ads*

Washington, DC – Today, Sierra Club launched a new advertising campaign entitled “Thirsty?” that urges the Environmental Protection Agency to put strong coal ash water pollution protections in place this year. This new campaign, which contains physical advertisements on metro trains in the Washington DC Metro system’s Orange Line coupled with an online buy in DC and North Carolina, comes as a response to the multiple coal-related pollution incidents to occur in the last three months.

“Americans deserve water we can drink, not water that makes us sick,” said Mary Anne Hitt, Director of Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign. “The West Virginia water crisis, the Duke Energy coal ash spill and the TVA coal ash disaster of 2008 all underscore the inadequacy of current state and federal safeguards. Now is the time to act swiftly in order to protect our health and waterways from coal’s toxic legacy.”

Coal-fired power plants are one of America’s biggest water polluters, dumping more toxins into rivers and streams than any other industry in the United States. Every year, the nation’s coal plants produce 140 million tons of coal ash pollution — and much of that material is stored in unlined ponds and uncovered piles, leaking heavy metals like mercury, lead and arsenic into local waterways.

The campaign comes at the same time as Sierra Club reveals that a year’s worth of time lapse photography from a hidden camera along the Ohio River captured images proving that dangerous coal ash wastewater from a plant owned by Kentucky based utility company Louisville Gas & Electric (LG&E) is pouring unabated into the Ohio River. This photographic evidence, along with Google Earth satellite images from 1993 to the present, support the Sierra Club’s notice to sue LG&E for violating the federal Clean Water Act.

“After years of delay,” Hitt continued, “including significant opposition from companies like Duke Energy and LG&E, responsible for the two most recent coal ash spills, EPA is now under a court order to finish the coal ash safeguards this year. We urge the EPA to move quickly to issue strong, enforceable protections that end all dangerous wet storage of coal ash, permanently removing the threat of coal ash spills. We can’t afford another Dan River disaster.”

“The EPA must finalize robust protections under the Clean Water Act and the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act,” Hitt concluded. “This includes safeguards for coal water pollution, coal ash and hazardous chemical sites, in order to deal with the dangerous pollution from the life cycle of coal. American water security is at risk, and the tragedies of the last three months show that we need comprehensive clean water protections that ensure our drinking water is safe and our rivers and streams are no longer the dumping ground for industry pollution.”

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Hazards of Mountain Island Lake Coal Ash and NC Coal Ash 101

Want to know more about the hazards of the Mountain Island Lake coal ash ponds and Coal ash in North Carolina? Thanks to Sarah Behnke of We Love Mountain Island Lake and Rick Gaskins of the Catawba Riverkeeper Foundation for these two excellent presentations. They are a quick review of what you need to know.

Hazards of Mountain Island Lake Coal Ash

MIL Town HallMIL Coal Ash Key Facts

Coal Ash 101

Coal Ash 101 R Gaskins to NC ERC Feb 17 2014Coal Ash 101 R Gaskins to NC ERC Feb 2014

Sierra Club Press Release: Duke Energy Offers Plan to Remove Dangerous Coal Ash Pits

Great work by the NC Beyond Coal team!

Duke Energy Offers Plan to Remove Dangerous Coal Ash Pits, Considers Retiring Asheville Coal Plant

Thursday, March 13, 2014
Contact:
Jenna Garland, Sierra Club, (404) 281-6398, jenna.garland@sierraclub.org
Kelly Martin, Sierra Club, (828) 423-7845, kelly.martin@sierraclub.org

Duke Energy Offers Plan to Remove Dangerous Coal Ash Pits, Considers Retiring Asheville Coal Plant

CHARLOTTE, NC – In response to Governor Pat McCrory’s request, Duke Energy has shared its plan to address ongoing dangerous and illegal pollution at all of its coal ash storage sites in North Carolina.

Senior Campaign Representative Kelly Martin issued the following statement in response:

“On behalf of the Sierra Club’s thousands of North Carolina members and supporters, I want to recognize Duke Energy’s leadership for taking responsibility for the tragic Dan River coal ash spill. CEO Lynn Good has made it clear that she and the company realize that wet storage of toxic coal ash waste is dangerous, threatening our clean water and treasured lakes, rivers and streams. Converting risky wet storage at all coal ash waste sites is a strong first step toward cleaning up Duke Energy’s toxic legacy in North Carolina.

On behalf of thousands of Asheville and Buncombe County residents, I applaud Duke Energy for publicly considering a plan to phase out the coal-burning units at its Asheville plant. Over the last two years, a grassroots movement of faith leaders, business leaders and public officials has sprung up to show that burning coal in our backyard does not match our community’s values. If Duke Energy meets the demands of the community and phases out its coal plant, the Asheville plant will be the 163rd plant in the nation to be retired since 2010. Moving Asheville beyond coal is a critical step for Duke Energy as it takes responsibility for its errors and sets a new path forward.

Finally, while Duke Energy’s plan is a good first step, it is incomplete and does not fully rise to the challenge presented. Without more information, North Carolinians cannot be sure that their right to clean, safe drinking water will be protected. Without a clear commitment, hard-working families cannot be sure that one of the nation’s most prosperous companies won’t pass the buck. As the Sierra Club and our partners in North Carolina have demonstrated, environmental advocates are key voices for holding polluters and regulators accountable. We are only beginning to show the strength of our voices for North Carolina’s people and environment.”

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Dan River Disaster Recap

Many thanks to Joan Walker, High Risk Energy Coordinator for the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, for this great update on the Dan River Disaster. If you missed some of the articles or want to dig into the references, click on the links. Here’s a re post of her report.

Dan River Disaster Recap Timeline

March 14th, 2014

Coal ash eddies in the Dan River. Photo source: Appalachian Voices

Having trouble keeping track of all the developments since the Dan River disaster began over a month ago? We continue to be amazed that the coal ash spill and subsequent developments have been in the news almost every day. This story has more twists and turns than the Dan River itself; sparking significant public outcry, a federal investigation into Duke Energy and the North Carolina Department of Natural Resources, Gov. McCrory’s request for Duke’s coal ash plans and more. Keeping up with the latest developments has been challenging, so  we compiled this retrospective timeline showing how this story has unfolded over the weeks. Please share!

February 2: A stormwater pipe bursts beneath an unlined coal ash impoundment at Duke Energy’s retired Dan River plant, spilling coal ash and contaminated wastewater directly into the Dan River.

February 3: Approximately 26 hours after the spill began Duke Energy finally notifies the public. NC Department of Natural Resources staff are on the scene helping to control the leak and begin taking water quality samples. Even at this early stage, with no water quality testing of the River or coal ash complete, officials downstream in Danville say the city’s drinking water will be safe.

February 4: Duke Energy and DENR staff continue to try to stop the spill. Duke estimates that approximately 50,000-82,000 tons of ash and 24-27 million gallons of contaminated wastewater reached the river.

 

February 5: Coal ash and wastewater continue pouring into the Dan River. The dark grey plume discolors the river as far as Danville, VA. The spill gains national attention and media across the country start raising questions about the lack of regulatory oversight of coal ash disposal.

February 6: Temporary fixes fail and Duke discovers that the broken pipe is actually corrugated metal not concrete as originally thought.  Samples taken by Waterkeeper Alliance show high levels of arsenic and other toxic heavy metals in the Dan, though DENR claims only copper exceeds state standards according to the agency’s tests.

February 7: Duke Energy apologizes for the spill and pledges to take care of the Dan River and surrounding environment.

February 8: Six days after the spill began, Duke Energy finally plugs the leaking pipe and stops the flow of waste to the river. NCDENR announces arsenic levels in the Dan River are unsafe, acknowledging original reports mistakenly showed the river was safe.

February 10: Duke Energy announces it plans to start removing ash out of the river immediately, but does not indicate how much ash will be removed from the river or plans for the remaining Dan River impoundments.

February 11: NC DENR asks a judge to disregard its proposed coal ash settlement with Duke. The settlement was criticized as a ‘sweetheart deal’ for not requiring Duke to clean up ongoing ash pollution and requiring only a $99,111 fine. DENR announces it will create a task force to review the state’s coal ash impoundments. NC lawmakers say they will push legislation for coal ash cleanup.

Secretary of NC DENR John Skvarla has been criticized for his agency’s track record of coal ash and response to the Dan River spill. Photo Source: Charlotte Business Journal

February 12: Ten days after the spill began, state health officials warn the public to not eat fish from or come in physical contact with the Dan River. Duke Energy halves its estimationof how much waste was spilled into the Dan River, downgrading it to 30,000-39,000 tons of ash and 24 million gallons of wastewater. The combined totals of these numbers equal 140,000 tons of ash and contaminated waste water.

February 13: Things start getting really interesting when federal authorities launch a criminal investigation into the Dan River disaster, issuing subpoenas to both Duke Energy and DENR. Waterkeeper Alliance confirms a second impoundment leak is dumping coal ash contaminated water to the Dan River about a third of a mile upstream of the 48-inch stormwater pipe.

February 14: NCDENR discover another, 36-inch pipe leaking at the Dan River impoundments. Governor McCrory gets defensive at a winter storm news conference when asked questions about the Dan River spill.

February 15: Gov. McCrory faces more questions about his ties with Duke Energy, his employer for 28 years, and denies any link to the now defunct Duke/DENR coal ash settlement.

February 17: A four-hour NC Environmental Review Commission hearing is fraught with sharp exchanges, but doesn’t result in any clear direction on policy solutions.

February 18: DENR orders Duke to plug the second leaking pipe after test results show its discharge contains elevated arsenic levels. Coal ash now coats the bottom of the Dan River for 70 miles downstream. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service issue a statement spotlighting the two endangered (logperch and spinymussels) and other sensitive species that inhabit the river who will be most impacted by this toxic waste disaster.

February 19: Federal investigators expand the criminal investigation to include all of NC’s coal ash impoundments and specific state employees. DENR holds their first press conference since the Dan River spill, Secretary John Skvarla and other officials closed the conference after 1 hour, leaving many of the press’ questions unanswered.

February 21: Duke Energy plugs the second leaking pipe, 7 days after it was discovered.

February 23: U.S. Forest service research biologist and coal ash expert Dennis Lemly estimates the damage caused by the Dan River disaster to fish, wildlife and local economies to be at least $70 million.

February 24: A new High Point University poll shows Gov. McCrory’s disapproval rating is up in the aftermath of the Dan River spill.

February 25: Governor McCrory finally says that old, leaky coal ash ponds like the ones at Dan River should be moved away from rivers and sends Duke a letter demanding utility hand over plans for all its NC coal ash dumps by March 15.

February 27: DENR chief Secretary John Skvarla continues to defend his agency’s handling of coal ash and environmentalists continue to call for swifter action to clean up the Dan River and other coal ash dumps.

March 1: A leaking stormwater pipe is discovered at another of Duke Energy’s coal ash impoundments, this time at the Cliffside Steam Station (now renamed J.E. Rogers) in Rutherford County.

March 2: A new study shows that over a five year period Duke Energy earned over $9 billion in profits but received tax rebates totaling $299 million, raising more questions about Duke’s claim that cleaning up old coal ash dumps is too expensive.

March 3: DENR issues environmental violations for the Dan River spill, threatening fines of up to $25,000 a day for non-compliance.

March 5: Masses of dead mussels and clams are discovered downstream of the spill site, some of the first visible signs of the devastated river ecosystem.

March 6: A Wake County, NC judge orders Duke Energy to take immediate action to eliminate the sources of groundwater contamination (coal ash impoundments) at all 14 of its coal-fired power plants in North Carolina.

On March 7, protesters gathered outside the Governor’s Mansion in Raleigh demanding clean up of the Dan River and NC’s other coal ash dumps. Photo source: WTVD

March 7: DENR cuts 13% of its staff positions in the Division of Water Resources and says it will not issue a violation for a third leaking pipe at Dan River, even though tests show the discharge contains high levels of coal ash toxins.

March 8: Duke Energy’s CEO, Lynn Good, said customers will cover the cost of emptying out the utility’s coal ash impoundments across North Carolina.

March 10: North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper says Duke Energy should shoulder the cost of cleaning up its ash and pledges to fight for consumers if the company tries to charge them. Gov. McCrory questions Duke’s management of coal ash and how it plans to pay for future clean ups, saying that  ”Responsibility wasn’t taken care of somewhere within that organization”.

March 11: Records from the NC Utilities Commission are subpoenaed as part of the widening federal investigation.

March 12: A federal judge gives Duke Energy more time to respond to ongoing Clean Water Act litigation in light of two new filings. One of the new filings relates to the Dan River Steam Station.

March 13: Internal emails between Duke Energy and DENR staff show state regulators coordinated with Duke Energy before intervening in citizens’ lawsuits. Utility and state staff exchanged messaged discussing “how Duke wants to be sued.” Democrats in the NC legislature unveiled the framework of a bill to force Duke Energy to move all their coal ash to lined landfills away from waters and pay for clean up, not charge ratepayers.

March 14: DENR rejects Duke’s plans for cleaning up its coal ash statewide. Gov. McCrory demanded detailed plans by March 15, instead the utility sent a four-page letter called “inadequate” by DENR Secretary Skvarla.

This story is far from over. Keep up with the latest developments at our dedicated Dan River News page, bit.ly/DanRiverNews, follow us on Twitter and like us on Facebook where we post the latest in coal ash daily!

http://blog.cleanenergy.org/2014/03/14/dan-river-disaster-recap/

Coal ash eddies in the Dan River. Photo source: Appalachian Voices

Having trouble keeping track of all the developments since the Dan River disaster began over a month ago? We continue to be amazed that the coal ash spill and subsequent developments have been in the news almost every day. This story has more twists and turns than the Dan River itself; sparking significant public outcry, a federal investigation into Duke Energy and the North Carolina Department of Natural Resources, Gov. McCrory’s request for Duke’s coal ash plans and more. Keeping up with the latest developments has been challenging, so  we compiled this retrospective timeline showing how this story has unfolded over the weeks. Please share!

February 2: A stormwater pipe bursts beneath an unlined coal ash impoundment at Duke Energy’s retired Dan River plant, spilling coal ash and contaminated wastewater directly into the Dan River.

February 3: Approximately 26 hours after the spill began Duke Energy finally notifies the public. NC Department of Natural Resources staff are on the scene helping to control the leak and begin taking water quality samples. Even at this early stage, with no water quality testing of the River or coal ash complete, officials downstream in Danville say the city’s drinking water will be safe.

February 4: Duke Energy and DENR staff continue to try to stop the spill. Duke estimates that approximately 50,000-82,000 tons of ash and 24-27 million gallons of contaminated wastewater reached the river.

 

February 5: Coal ash and wastewater continue pouring into the Dan River. The dark grey plume discolors the river as far as Danville, VA. The spill gains national attention and media across the country start raising questions about the lack of regulatory oversight of coal ash disposal.

February 6: Temporary fixes fail and Duke discovers that the broken pipe is actually corrugated metal not concrete as originally thought.  Samples taken by Waterkeeper Alliance show high levels of arsenic and other toxic heavy metals in the Dan, though DENR claims only copper exceeds state standards according to the agency’s tests.

February 7: Duke Energy apologizes for the spill and pledges to take care of the Dan River and surrounding environment.

February 8: Six days after the spill began, Duke Energy finally plugs the leaking pipe and stops the flow of waste to the river. NCDENR announces arsenic levels in the Dan River are unsafe, acknowledging original reports mistakenly showed the river was safe.

February 10: Duke Energy announces it plans to start removing ash out of the river immediately, but does not indicate how much ash will be removed from the river or plans for the remaining Dan River impoundments.

February 11: NC DENR asks a judge to disregard its proposed coal ash settlement with Duke. The settlement was criticized as a ‘sweetheart deal’ for not requiring Duke to clean up ongoing ash pollution and requiring only a $99,111 fine. DENR announces it will create a task force to review the state’s coal ash impoundments. NC lawmakers say they will push legislation for coal ash cleanup.

Secretary of NC DENR John Skvarla has been criticized for his agency’s track record of coal ash and response to the Dan River spill. Photo Source: Charlotte Business Journal

February 12: Ten days after the spill began, state health officials warn the public to not eat fish from or come in physical contact with the Dan River. Duke Energy halves its estimationof how much waste was spilled into the Dan River, downgrading it to 30,000-39,000 tons of ash and 24 million gallons of wastewater. The combined totals of these numbers equal 140,000 tons of ash and contaminated waste water.

February 13: Things start getting really interesting when federal authorities launch a criminal investigation into the Dan River disaster, issuing subpoenas to both Duke Energy and DENR. Waterkeeper Alliance confirms a second impoundment leak is dumping coal ash contaminated water to the Dan River about a third of a mile upstream of the 48-inch stormwater pipe.

February 14: NCDENR discover another, 36-inch pipe leaking at the Dan River impoundments. Governor McCrory gets defensive at a winter storm news conference when asked questions about the Dan River spill.

February 15: Gov. McCrory faces more questions about his ties with Duke Energy, his employer for 28 years, and denies any link to the now defunct Duke/DENR coal ash settlement.

February 17: A four-hour NC Environmental Review Commission hearing is fraught with sharp exchanges, but doesn’t result in any clear direction on policy solutions.

February 18: DENR orders Duke to plug the second leaking pipe after test results show its discharge contains elevated arsenic levels. Coal ash now coats the bottom of the Dan River for 70 miles downstream. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service issue a statement spotlighting the two endangered (logperch and spinymussels) and other sensitive species that inhabit the river who will be most impacted by this toxic waste disaster.

February 19: Federal investigators expand the criminal investigation to include all of NC’s coal ash impoundments and specific state employees. DENR holds their first press conference since the Dan River spill, Secretary John Skvarla and other officials closed the conference after 1 hour, leaving many of the press’ questions unanswered.

February 21: Duke Energy plugs the second leaking pipe, 7 days after it was discovered.

February 23: U.S. Forest service research biologist and coal ash expert Dennis Lemly estimates the damage caused by the Dan River disaster to fish, wildlife and local economies to be at least $70 million.

February 24: A new High Point University poll shows Gov. McCrory’s disapproval rating is up in the aftermath of the Dan River spill.

February 25: Governor McCrory finally says that old, leaky coal ash ponds like the ones at Dan River should be moved away from rivers and sends Duke a letter demanding utility hand over plans for all its NC coal ash dumps by March 15.

February 27: DENR chief Secretary John Skvarla continues to defend his agency’s handling of coal ash and environmentalists continue to call for swifter action to clean up the Dan River and other coal ash dumps.

March 1: A leaking stormwater pipe is discovered at another of Duke Energy’s coal ash impoundments, this time at the Cliffside Steam Station (now renamed J.E. Rogers) in Rutherford County.

March 2: A new study shows that over a five year period Duke Energy earned over $9 billion in profits but received tax rebates totaling $299 million, raising more questions about Duke’s claim that cleaning up old coal ash dumps is too expensive.

March 3: DENR issues environmental violations for the Dan River spill, threatening fines of up to $25,000 a day for non-compliance.

March 5: Masses of dead mussels and clams are discovered downstream of the spill site, some of the first visible signs of the devastated river ecosystem.

March 6: A Wake County, NC judge orders Duke Energy to take immediate action to eliminate the sources of groundwater contamination (coal ash impoundments) at all 14 of its coal-fired power plants in North Carolina.

On March 7, protesters gathered outside the Governor’s Mansion in Raleigh demanding clean up of the Dan River and NC’s other coal ash dumps. Photo source: WTVD

March 7: DENR cuts 13% of its staff positions in the Division of Water Resources and says it will not issue a violation for a third leaking pipe at Dan River, even though tests show the discharge contains high levels of coal ash toxins.

March 8: Duke Energy’s CEO, Lynn Good, said customers will cover the cost of emptying out the utility’s coal ash impoundments across North Carolina.

March 10: North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper says Duke Energy should shoulder the cost of cleaning up its ash and pledges to fight for consumers if the company tries to charge them. Gov. McCrory questions Duke’s management of coal ash and how it plans to pay for future clean ups, saying that  ”Responsibility wasn’t taken care of somewhere within that organization”.

March 11: Records from the NC Utilities Commission are subpoenaed as part of the widening federal investigation.

March 12: A federal judge gives Duke Energy more time to respond to ongoing Clean Water Act litigation in light of two new filings. One of the new filings relates to the Dan River Steam Station.

March 13: Internal emails between Duke Energy and DENR staff show state regulators coordinated with Duke Energy before intervening in citizens’ lawsuits. Utility and state staff exchanged messaged discussing “how Duke wants to be sued.” Democrats in the NC legislature unveiled the framework of a bill to force Duke Energy to move all their coal ash to lined landfills away from waters and pay for clean up, not charge ratepayers.

March 14: DENR rejects Duke’s plans for cleaning up its coal ash statewide. Gov. McCrory demanded detailed plans by March 15, instead the utility sent a four-page letter called “inadequate” by DENR Secretary Skvarla.

This story is far from over. Keep up with the latest developments at our dedicated Dan River News page, bit.ly/DanRiverNews, follow us on Twitter and like us on Facebook where we post the latest in coal ash daily!

- See more at: http://blog.cleanenergy.org/2014/03/14/dan-river-disaster-recap/#sthash.8jnLMg6r.dpuf

Dan River Disaster Recap Timeline

Coal ash eddies in the Dan River. Photo source: Appalachian Voices

Having trouble keeping track of all the developments since the Dan River disaster began over a month ago? We continue to be amazed that the coal ash spill and subsequent developments have been in the news almost every day. This story has more twists and turns than the Dan River itself; sparking significant public outcry, a federal investigation into Duke Energy and the North Carolina Department of Natural Resources, Gov. McCrory’s request for Duke’s coal ash plans and more. Keeping up with the latest developments has been challenging, so  we compiled this retrospective timeline showing how this story has unfolded over the weeks. Please share!

February 2: A stormwater pipe bursts beneath an unlined coal ash impoundment at Duke Energy’s retired Dan River plant, spilling coal ash and contaminated wastewater directly into the Dan River.

February 3: Approximately 26 hours after the spill began Duke Energy finally notifies the public. NC Department of Natural Resources staff are on the scene helping to control the leak and begin taking water quality samples. Even at this early stage, with no water quality testing of the River or coal ash complete, officials downstream in Danville say the city’s drinking water will be safe.

February 4: Duke Energy and DENR staff continue to try to stop the spill. Duke estimates that approximately 50,000-82,000 tons of ash and 24-27 million gallons of contaminated wastewater reached the river.

 

February 5: Coal ash and wastewater continue pouring into the Dan River. The dark grey plume discolors the river as far as Danville, VA. The spill gains national attention and media across the country start raising questions about the lack of regulatory oversight of coal ash disposal.

February 6: Temporary fixes fail and Duke discovers that the broken pipe is actually corrugated metal not concrete as originally thought.  Samples taken by Waterkeeper Alliance show high levels of arsenic and other toxic heavy metals in the Dan, though DENR claims only copper exceeds state standards according to the agency’s tests.

February 7: Duke Energy apologizes for the spill and pledges to take care of the Dan River and surrounding environment.

February 8: Six days after the spill began, Duke Energy finally plugs the leaking pipe and stops the flow of waste to the river. NCDENR announces arsenic levels in the Dan River are unsafe, acknowledging original reports mistakenly showed the river was safe.

February 10: Duke Energy announces it plans to start removing ash out of the river immediately, but does not indicate how much ash will be removed from the river or plans for the remaining Dan River impoundments.

February 11: NC DENR asks a judge to disregard its proposed coal ash settlement with Duke. The settlement was criticized as a ‘sweetheart deal’ for not requiring Duke to clean up ongoing ash pollution and requiring only a $99,111 fine. DENR announces it will create a task force to review the state’s coal ash impoundments. NC lawmakers say they will push legislation for coal ash cleanup.

Secretary of NC DENR John Skvarla has been criticized for his agency’s track record of coal ash and response to the Dan River spill. Photo Source: Charlotte Business Journal

February 12: Ten days after the spill began, state health officials warn the public to not eat fish from or come in physical contact with the Dan River. Duke Energy halves its estimationof how much waste was spilled into the Dan River, downgrading it to 30,000-39,000 tons of ash and 24 million gallons of wastewater. The combined totals of these numbers equal 140,000 tons of ash and contaminated waste water.

February 13: Things start getting really interesting when federal authorities launch a criminal investigation into the Dan River disaster, issuing subpoenas to both Duke Energy and DENR. Waterkeeper Alliance confirms a second impoundment leak is dumping coal ash contaminated water to the Dan River about a third of a mile upstream of the 48-inch stormwater pipe.

February 14: NCDENR discover another, 36-inch pipe leaking at the Dan River impoundments. Governor McCrory gets defensive at a winter storm news conference when asked questions about the Dan River spill.

February 15: Gov. McCrory faces more questions about his ties with Duke Energy, his employer for 28 years, and denies any link to the now defunct Duke/DENR coal ash settlement.

February 17: A four-hour NC Environmental Review Commission hearing is fraught with sharp exchanges, but doesn’t result in any clear direction on policy solutions.

February 18: DENR orders Duke to plug the second leaking pipe after test results show its discharge contains elevated arsenic levels. Coal ash now coats the bottom of the Dan River for 70 miles downstream. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service issue a statement spotlighting the two endangered (logperch and spinymussels) and other sensitive species that inhabit the river who will be most impacted by this toxic waste disaster.

February 19: Federal investigators expand the criminal investigation to include all of NC’s coal ash impoundments and specific state employees. DENR holds their first press conference since the Dan River spill, Secretary John Skvarla and other officials closed the conference after 1 hour, leaving many of the press’ questions unanswered.

February 21: Duke Energy plugs the second leaking pipe, 7 days after it was discovered.

February 23: U.S. Forest service research biologist and coal ash expert Dennis Lemly estimates the damage caused by the Dan River disaster to fish, wildlife and local economies to be at least $70 million.

February 24: A new High Point University poll shows Gov. McCrory’s disapproval rating is up in the aftermath of the Dan River spill.

February 25: Governor McCrory finally says that old, leaky coal ash ponds like the ones at Dan River should be moved away from rivers and sends Duke a letter demanding utility hand over plans for all its NC coal ash dumps by March 15.

February 27: DENR chief Secretary John Skvarla continues to defend his agency’s handling of coal ash and environmentalists continue to call for swifter action to clean up the Dan River and other coal ash dumps.

March 1: A leaking stormwater pipe is discovered at another of Duke Energy’s coal ash impoundments, this time at the Cliffside Steam Station (now renamed J.E. Rogers) in Rutherford County.

March 2: A new study shows that over a five year period Duke Energy earned over $9 billion in profits but received tax rebates totaling $299 million, raising more questions about Duke’s claim that cleaning up old coal ash dumps is too expensive.

March 3: DENR issues environmental violations for the Dan River spill, threatening fines of up to $25,000 a day for non-compliance.

March 5: Masses of dead mussels and clams are discovered downstream of the spill site, some of the first visible signs of the devastated river ecosystem.

March 6: A Wake County, NC judge orders Duke Energy to take immediate action to eliminate the sources of groundwater contamination (coal ash impoundments) at all 14 of its coal-fired power plants in North Carolina.

On March 7, protesters gathered outside the Governor’s Mansion in Raleigh demanding clean up of the Dan River and NC’s other coal ash dumps. Photo source: WTVD

March 7: DENR cuts 13% of its staff positions in the Division of Water Resources and says it will not issue a violation for a third leaking pipe at Dan River, even though tests show the discharge contains high levels of coal ash toxins.

March 8: Duke Energy’s CEO, Lynn Good, said customers will cover the cost of emptying out the utility’s coal ash impoundments across North Carolina.

March 10: North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper says Duke Energy should shoulder the cost of cleaning up its ash and pledges to fight for consumers if the company tries to charge them. Gov. McCrory questions Duke’s management of coal ash and how it plans to pay for future clean ups, saying that  ”Responsibility wasn’t taken care of somewhere within that organization”.

March 11: Records from the NC Utilities Commission are subpoenaed as part of the widening federal investigation.

March 12: A federal judge gives Duke Energy more time to respond to ongoing Clean Water Act litigation in light of two new filings. One of the new filings relates to the Dan River Steam Station.

March 13: Internal emails between Duke Energy and DENR staff show state regulators coordinated with Duke Energy before intervening in citizens’ lawsuits. Utility and state staff exchanged messaged discussing “how Duke wants to be sued.” Democrats in the NC legislature unveiled the framework of a bill to force Duke Energy to move all their coal ash to lined landfills away from waters and pay for clean up, not charge ratepayers.

March 14: DENR rejects Duke’s plans for cleaning up its coal ash statewide. Gov. McCrory demanded detailed plans by March 15, instead the utility sent a four-page letter called “inadequate” by DENR Secretary Skvarla.

This story is far from over. Keep up with the latest developments at our dedicated Dan River News page, bit.ly/DanRiverNews, follow us on Twitter and like us on Facebook where we post the latest in coal ash daily!

- See more at: http://blog.cleanenergy.org/2014/03/14/dan-river-disaster-recap/#sthash.8jnLMg6r.dpuf