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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.

Governor 'Using Words, Not Actions' With Duke Energy

Governor Pat McCrory
Hal Goodtree
Flickr Creative Commons

Governor Pat McCrory has sent a letter to Duke Energy’s CEO asking the company to remove coal ash from sites near waterways. In the letter McCrory says his administration has expressed its primary desire that coal ash ponds be moved away from waterways.

“This is a good development but we’re still dealing with words and not actions,” said Frank Holleman is senior attorney with the Southern Environmental Law Center.”

Holleman notes the letter was co-signed by by John Skvarla, Secretary of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

“The Governor’s administration which he directly appoints has the authority to go in the court and seek an order from the court requiring that the illegal pollution at all these locations be cleaned up,” Holleman said.

The state has not taken that step. A different letter was sent from DENR to Duke on Tuesday. That notification informed the company that the state is considering changes to a permit that regulates how much pollutants the company can legally release into the river. The state agency will make recommendations to a judge on that matter by March 21st.

At least 30,000 tons of potentially toxic coal ash spilled into the Dan River 24 days ago, when a stormwater pipe running under a waste pond ruptured.  It’s the third largest spill of its kind in US history. 

>>Look at a history of the lawsuits filed related to coal ash.

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