Tuesday, March 18, 2014

McAuliffe: Company should compensate Va. for coal ash spill / Picnic for the Dan River

McAuliffe: Company should compensate Va. for coal ash spill

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS | Posted: Tuesday, March 18, 2014 2:52 pm
DANVILLE, Va. - Gov. Terry McAuliffe said Tuesday he expects Duke Energy to fully compensate Virginia for a massive coal ash spill into the Dan River that turned collection basins at Danville's water treatment plant gray.
McAuliffe spoke after he toured the city's treatment plant and was assured the drinking water for 18,000 customers were well within safe-drinking standards based on multiple municipal, federal and independent water testing.

"I'm going to have a little glass of water myself," McAuliffe said at the conclusion of the tour of the plant, which overlooks the Dan River.

Despite questions about Duke's handling of the Feb. 2 spill, McAuliffe said Duke executives had assured him they would make good on any costs associated with the spill in Virginia. The spill coated 70 miles of the Dan River, which crosses both states, with toxic sludge.

"I have assurances from Duke Energy that they're going to pay for everything," McAuliffe said. "I take them at their word. No reason not to."

In North Carolina, a federal grand jury was to convene Tuesday as part of a widening criminal investigation sparked by the spill, which coated 70 miles of the Dan River with the toxic sludge.
Environmental groups are pressuring North Carolina regulators and lawmakers to compel Duke to clean up leaky, unlined ash pits polluting state waters. They contain a toxic stew of arsenic, selenium, lead and other poisonous contaminants found in coal ash.

Virginia has 11 ash coal pits, and they have all undergone state and Environmental Protection Agency inspections to ensure a similar environmental mess won't occur, said David K. Paylor, director of the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality. He said five of the impoundments are scheduled to be retired.

Paylor said some deficiencies were found and "the owners got on (them) pretty quickly and made the corrections." One impoundment had a storm drain beneath it, similar to the North Carolina impoundment in Eden, and it was being monitored by cameras. He said it was located in southwest Virginia.

Paylor, who was to be the lead state official at the public meeting later Tuesday, said the inspections were done within the last several years.

McAuliffe agreed with Paylor's statement last week that Duke would be held accountable for any remediation as a result of the spill in Virginia.

The state is taking a long-term look at the impact of the spill, testing fish and other marine life, among other work that "is ongoing and continues to be ongoing." He said a full environmental assessment might not be known for years. Testing on fish, for example, might not reflect certain contaminants for years to come.

"In the long term, we have to evaluate what the damage to the river was, what the damage to recreation was, the damage to fisheries," Paylor said. "I don't expect them to be lasting forever. Much of the coal ash will eventually be buried with other sedimentation."

Paylor and McAuliffe declined to speculate on the ultimate costs.

"It's going to take time," McAuliffe said. "I think the DEQ is going to be working on this two, three, four years. We don't know at this point."

Asked if he would seek more stringent regulations on coal ash impoundments, McAuliffe said he would leave that call to DEQ.

Barry T. Dunkley, the director of the treatment plant, said the coal ash in the Dan was visible the day after the spill. He said not only could it be seen in the river, but in the gray ash that collected in basins at the treatment plant.

Andrew Lester, executive director of the Roanoke River Basin Association, said he was pleased to see McAuliffe and Paylor in Danville, which is about 20 miles downriver from the spill.

"We know that there's only so much they can do at this point, but we're happy to know he's at the front of the issue," Lester said of McAuliffe. "This is a long-term issue."


Federal Grand Jury starts tomorrow in Greensboro.

Picnic for the Dan River

Mar 22, 2014 12:00 PM

Mar 22, 2014 01:30 PM

Eden, NC

Join residents and clean water advocates for a free picnic on the river, featuring the string band, Dan River Girls! 

We will gather at Island Ford Landing on the Smith River in Eden on World Water Day, Saturday, March 22 from noon to 1:30 to bring attention to the unaffected rivers available for recreation, and to call on Duke Energy to provide information on how it plans to clean up clean-up of coal ash from the Dan River. Free hot dogs, sides and beverages will be provided thanks to the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy.

Overflow parking at Three Rivers Outfitters, on the traffic circle at 413 Church Street, Eden, Contact jedwards@danriver.org for more information.

Dan River Basin Association

Park at Three Rivers Outfitters (on the traffic circle at 413 Church St. in Eden). Cross the Smith River bridge, and you will see the picnic.
Breaking: Duke Energy Caught Dumping Wastewater from Coal Ash Lagoon Into Local Watershed
Mar17, 2014 5:23 pm

Waterkeeper Alliance released aerial surveillance photos taken from a fixed-wing aircraft last week which show Duke Energy workers pumping wastewater from two of Duke Energy’s toxic coal ash lagoons into a canal that drains into the Cape Fear River.

The revelation comes less than two months after the Dan River disaster, where at least 30,000 tons of coal ash spilled from another of Duke Energy’s toxic coal ash lagoons. The pumping also came just days before a federal grand jury convenes in Raleigh to hear evidence in a criminal investigation of Duke Energy, the North Carolina Dept. of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the handling of coal ash. 
In these revealing stories in Sunday’s New York Times and Monday’s Los Angeles Times, Duke Energy admitted its workers were pumping coal ash wastewater out of a toxic wastewater pond and into a canal which drains into the Cape Fear River. The Cape Fear River is a source of public drinking water for residents in Fayetteville, Sanford, Dunn, Harnett County, Fort Bragg and Wilmington.  
Even more startling, Duke Energy described the pumping of coal ash wastewater into a watershed as part of “routine maintenance.” The New York Times quoted Duke Energy spokesman Jeff Brooks as saying: “They’re lowering the water to conduct the maintenance they need to.” According to the New York Times, Duke claims it notified state regulators—a claim that was contradicted by officials with DENR.
Duke Energy cannot lawfully discharge any pollutant to a waterway without a proper permit in place.
“To label the secret, unmitigated, intentional discharge of untold amounts of highly toxic wastewater as ‘routine maintenance’ seems ludicrous,” said Peter Harrison of the Waterkeeper Alliance. “Here, Duke Energy has admitted that it deliberately emptied the contents of its ash ponds into the Cape Fear River watershed, just weeks after decimating at least 70 miles of the Dan River with its coal ash, and just days before it will appear in front of a federal grand jury for its suspected criminal activity related to its coal ash.”
DENR has indicated that Duke did not notify the agency prior to pumping the ponds, and that regulators noticed the pumping during a site visit on an unspecified day last week. “If DENR did not authorize Duke’s pumping, it would show an appalling disregard for the law and the welfare of North Carolinians,” Harrison added.
Cape Fear Riverkeeper Kemp Burdette said, “I am gravely concerned that neither Duke nor DENR gave any public notice that untold gallons of concentrated untreated coal ash waste was deliberately dumped into the Cape Fear watershed. Hundreds of thousands of North Carolinians rely on the Cape Fear river for drinking water, fishing and swimming. We do not want heavy metals from coal ash in our river.” 

read more click here:http://ecowatch.com/2014/03/17/duke-energy-coal-ash/#/BlackoutGallery/326556/3