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Environment
Coal ash is the waste that remains when coal is burned. It is usually collected in a dump, known as a pond. North Carolina has more than 30 such sites in 14 different locations across the state. A pipe running under one of the ponds run by Duke Energy in Eden NC ruptured in February of 2014. The coal ash spilled, largely affecting the Dan River which flows into Virginia. The spill is the third largest of its kind in U.S. history.Many see potential complications because North Carolina's governor, Pat McCrory, worked for Duke Energy for 28 years.

Conservationists Have Concerns About Coal Ash Clean-Up

Riverbend Steam Station, a coal-fired generating facility in Gaston County, NC.  Riverbend will be retired by 2015 as part of Duke Energy’s strategy to modernize its power plants.
Duke Energy via Flickr, Creative Commons
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Environmental groups are asking to take part in negotiations over how to clean-up contaminated ground water sites. The state Division of Environment and Natural Resources – DENR – is trying to reach a settlement with Duke Energy about how to clean up sites contaminated with coal ash, from power plants. Many conservationists don’t think DENR’s proposed settlements will go far enough – and have asked a judge for permission to join the state’s lawsuit as plaintiffs.

“That’s how we treat garbage that comes out of our household trash cans. And we ought to do at least that much to protect our communities from coal ash that contains toxic substances that pollute our waterways and can have impact not only on our drinking water, but on our health,” said Frank Holleman, a Senior Attorney at the Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC). 

He wants a settlement that would remove the ash and store it in a lined landfill away from drinking water supplies and major water ways. Holleman says the proposed settlement between DENR and Duke, didn’t detail a clean-up plan or timeline. Coal ash contains arsenic, chromium and other toxic substances. A judge is expected to rule by mid-March.

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