Commentary

Coal ash: The chorus exposing and opposing Duke Energy grows

Coal AshBe sure to check out a couple of excellent new opinion pieces on Duke Energy’s coal ash mess in two of the state’s major dailies this morning.

The first, which isn’t yet online for some reason, is letter from Amy Brown — a woman who lives near a Duke Coal Ash site in Belmont — that ran in the print edition of this morning’s News & Observer. In it, Brown is as articulate and convincing as she is passionate in skewering a recent op-ed from the President of Duke Energy North Carolina. Here’s an excerpt:

“Duke continues to claim that our well water is just as safe or better than city water, and that is a false claim. Duke has had meetings with the state to discuss our water, without us, and that is a breach of trust. Nothing is impossible, but Duke must be willing to listen and try to understand its neighbors’ concerns to move forward.

Capping the coal ash in place will always leave people questioning why Duke didn’t just remove it when it had a chance. Cap-in-place is like an old house that has siding added on. The outside looks great, but the inside is still that same old house that has many problems….

If [Duke President] Fountain believes that the cleanup request is coming only from ‘special interest groups’ then he’s wrong because we aren’t followers of things that we don’t understand. We are leaders because we understand the danger of Duke’s toxic waste being left in the ground. Duke’s neighbors didn’t ask for this, and we want our peace of mind back. When referring to ‘special interest groups,’ maybe Fountain should look within his own company or look to those that Duke has been meeting with. Remember, we aren’t the enemy. We are simply Duke’s neighbors.”

Meanwhile, the lead editorial in the Winston-Salem Journal (“Residents deserve clean, safe water”) puts it this way:

“We’re glad a tentative directive announced Wednesday by state environmental regulators says Duke Energy must excavate its coal-ash basins statewide within eight years. But there’s still a long way to go before that happens.

As the Journal’s Bertrand M. Gutiérrez reported Thursday, the key word is “tentative:” The final decision on how Duke must clean up the coal-ash waste will likely rest with the state legislature.

Gov. Pat McCrory should follow up his administration’s directive by pushing the legislature to excavate and not cap-in-place these basins. A recent deposition underscores the need for firm action.

The deposition given by State Epidemiologist Megan Davies, as reported on by Gutiérrez, raises troubling questions about well water near coal-ash basins. The deposition was given as part of a coal-ash lawsuit headed by the Southern Environmental Law Center, which released the deposition….

The tentative directive is a welcome start, but aggressive follow-through will be essential. Residents need proof that their water is safer than safe — no matter the cost. We look forward to McCrory pushing the legislature hard on this crucial issue and finally getting these basins excavated.”

The bottom line: Duke is slowly but surely losing the P.R. war over its coal ash mess. The legal and political losses are sure to follow. The company would do itself and its shareholders a favor if it stopped stonewalling and started acting like a responsible corporate citizen ASAP.

2 Comments


  1. keely wood

    May 20, 2016 at 9:39 am

    Instead of spreading it across the state, to contaminate more citizens, SALTSTONE Encapsulation as used with nuclear waste should be used on Dukes own property. Everyone knows Plastic liners eventually leak. #DEQ=Don’t Expect Quality

  2. Pertains!

    May 20, 2016 at 12:02 pm

    Coal ash or lead poisoning both are due to weak Governors.
    McCrory is still covering for Duke.
    You would think McCrory would look at the demands for Michigan’s governor to resign and/or to impeach him and see the similarities.
    In both cases money, money, money was found to be more important than people’s life’s.

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