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Experts: Senate coal ash bill is an improvement but still not nearly enough

Coal AshLest anyone have the impression that the coal ash clean-up plan adopted in the Senate yesterday takes care of all of the problems and inadequacies in the Governor’s proposal, be sure to check out this list compiled by the experts at the Southern Environmental Law Center.

Though certainly an improvement (the Sierra Club calls it “a good job of setting out a clear timeline for coal ash clean up”), the Senate plan still leaves more than a quarter of the state’s population unprotected. As the SELC folks report:

“The current N.C. Senate Coal Ash Bill would leave at risk about 2.6 million people who rely on drinking water intakes downstream from ten leaking Duke Energy coal ash sites not required to be cleaned up under the bill. These ten leaking coal ash sites are contaminating groundwater, rivers and lakes near communities across North Carolina.

Up for a vote this week, the bill allows Duke Energy and the state Department of Environment and Natural Resources to just cover up unlined coal ash pits that are polluting water near communities and upstream of public drinking water intakes. Covering up coal ash pits does not stop groundwater pollution underway at all of the Duke Energy sites.

Communities left at risk by the bill with drinking water intakes downstream from these ten sites include Charlotte-Mecklenberg, Shelby, Lincoln County, Gastonia, Mount Holly, Belmont, Denton, Albemarle, Norwood, Montgomery County, Richmond County, Anson County, Sanford, Harnett County, Dunn, Fayetteville, Wilmington, Brunswick County, Goldsboro, Madison, Eden, and Weldon. In North Carolina, Virginia and South Carolina, many communities also will face a combined threat from several leaking Duke Energy coal ash pits along their watersheds that may not be cleaned up under this bill.

The ten Duke Energy coal sites with leaking unlined pits that may be simply covered with dirt and left in place are Belews Creek, Buck, Cape Fear, Cliffside, G.G. Allen, Lee, Marshall, Mayo, Roxboro, and Weatherspoon. Every Duke Energy coal ash site in N.C. has violations of state clean water laws, federal clean water laws, or both. Details regarding the contamination from coal ash at each site and downstream and nearby communities follows.

 

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