Coal Ash News and Media
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A bill on a compromise plan reached Tuesday to close all North Carolina coal ash ponds by 2029 clearly demonstrates bipartisan support for …
Approval of the Coal Ash Management Act came 200 days after a major spill at a former Duke Energy power plant that dumped 40,000 tons of toxic …
After almost three weeks spent in a staring contest, the N.C. House and Senate agreed on a compromise coal ash bill Wednesday and adjourned.
The General Assembly on Wednesday approved legislation addressing the problem unmasked six months ago when a coal ash spill from a Duke …
We will immediately begin adapting our strategy to meet the requirements in the 2014 Coal Ash Management Act. Contact: Jeff Brooks 24-Hour: …
Last week the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) finally agreed to pay $27.8 million to more than 800 property owners who suffered damage from the massive 2008 Kingston coal ash spill. The spill is one the largest of it’s kind in US history, and spread over one billion gallons of toxic coal ash over 300 acres of aquatic ecosystems, farmlands and neighborhoods. TVA previously purchased over 180 properties in the spill area for approximately $147 million, and while this is likely to be the last wave of settlements, the impacts of this disaster will continue to be felt for decades to come.
We applaud TVA for finally compensating those directly impacted by the spill, while recognizing that the surrounding community, rivers and environment will never be the same and that residents in Perry County, AL who received much of the Kingston ash waste have yet to be compensated for their pollution burdens from this disaster.
As long as our utilities continue burning coal without proper regulations and oversight for their coal ash dumpsites, communities nationwide remain at risk from devastating coal ash spills and pollution problems.
This post originally appeared in the South Florida Sun Sentinel on August 5, 2014. You can access the original article here.
By Lynn Ringenberg, MD
A national epidemic has come to Florida. It is a silent threat, growing every day. Pollution contaminates our waters, poisons our fish and wildlife and increases our risk of cancer and other diseases.
The culprit is coal ash, and here in Florida we generate more than six million tons of this toxic waste every year, making our state seventh in the nation for coal ash generation. Even though it’s full of dangerous contaminants, coal ash is even less regulated than our household garbage.
In February, a coal ash pond in North Carolina ruptured, sending 140,000 tons of coal ash into the Dan River along the Virginia border. In 2008, a coal ash pond in Tennessee burst, sending more than one billion gallons of coal ash into the Clinch and Emory Rivers and damaging 40 nearby homes. While the coal ash problem in Florida isn’t as obvious, it is still just as dangerous.
Coal ash is the waste left over when coal is burned for electricity. In 2007, power plants nationwide generated 140 million tons of this waste — enough to fill a line of train cars stretching from the North Pole to the South Pole. Many power plants simply dump their coal ash into unlined and unmonitored pits. There are no federal regulations ensuring safe disposal and handling of this waste, so coal ash can often contaminate nearby lakes, rivers, streams and drinking water aquifers with toxic pollutants. Across the country, coal ash has contaminated water at more than 200 sites.
Florida’s most recent instance of contamination is along the Apalachicola River. On June 5, environmental groups sued Gulf Power Company for illegally discharging coal ash into the river at its Scholz Electric Generating Plant, a violation of the Clean Water Act. Water tests near the coal ash dumps found that arsenic levels coming out of the unlined pits were 300 times higher than federal safety standards. High levels of cadmium, chromium — well known carcinogens — as well as lead, selenium and mercury were also found.
With legislature’s failure to pass strong coal ash bill, DENR and Duke must fulfill cleanup obligation
August 1, 2014 –In spite of 11th hour negotiations Thursday night, the North Carolina House and Senate failed to come to agreement on their weak, incomplete coal ash management bills, putting the impetus back on Duke Energy and the state Department of Environment and Natural Resources to remove coal ash from unlined pits near waterways.
The Senate proposed an inadequate bill back in June; the House significantly weakened that proposal; and ultimately, the conference committee found itself at a stalemate to address North Carolina’s coal ash problem.
“This is a multi-layered failure of leadership. Both chambers failed to offer the comprehensive cleanup plan they promised at the outset of session,” said Donna Lisenby, global coal campaign coordinator for Waterkeeper Alliance. “Then they failed to take any action at all. We hope that lawmakers’ return in November will be a reboot of priorities. All North Carolina communities need protection from coal ash.”
Aging, unlined coal ash lagoons are leaching arsenic, chromium, mercury, lead, cadmium, boron, and other pollutants into rivers, streams and groundwater at every single Duke Energy facility in this state. Under public pressure, Duke Energy has already publicly volunteered to move ash from the Dan River, Riverbend, Sutton and Asheville facilities into lined landfills away from waterways. In the absence of clear directives from the legislature, they must keep that promise.
Six months ago some of our worst fears became true (for a second time) when 140,000 tons of coal ash and contaminated wastewater spilled into the Dan River near Eden, North Carolina. As the spill continued for almost 2 weeks, a dark grey plume travelled 70 miles downstream threatening drinking water supplies and the river’s long-term health. Unlike other pollutants that can break down in the environment over time, heavy metal-laden ash settles to the river bed and the toxics can reenter the water column, get stirred up during flooding, and be taken up into the food chain as long as ash remains.
Duke Energy said they would take full responsibility and clean up the spill, with CEO Lynn Good stating in April 2014, “We are now continuing to work at cleaning up the river, and we will stay there until that is resolved.”
Continued pressure is needed on EPA, Duke and the NC Department of Environment and Natural Resources (NC DENR) to ensure that every possible opportunity is taken to continue clean up efforts and protect Duke’s neighbors, the public, and the environment at all of NC’s coal ash dumpsites.
July 30, 2014
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. –According to the first Santee Cooper coal ash removal report released this week, Santee Cooper has removed over 42,000 tons from its unlined coal ash lagoons on the banks of the Waccamaw River in Conway, South Carolina. The removal is part of a settlement reached between Santee Cooper and citizen groups represented by the Southern Environmental Law Center — the Waccamaw Riverkeeper, the South Carolina Coastal Conservation League, and the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy.
“Santee Cooper is carrying out its obligations and removing coal ash from Conway and the banks of the Waccamaw River in South Carolina,” said Frank Holleman, senior attorney for the Southern Environmental Law Center who represented the groups in the litigation. “The end result will be restored wetlands and a safer, cleaner Conway and Waccamaw. Duke Energy should follow Santee Cooper’s example by cleaning up all of its coal ash in North and South Carolina —moving the coal ash to safer, dry, lined storage away from rivers and waterways.”