Thursday, March 6, 2014

North Carolina’s coal ash mess

North Carolina’s coal ash mess explained (Video)

Veteran reporter Stuart Watson of WCNC TV in Charlotte has been following North Carolina’s coal ash story for years and it shows in an excellent 30 minute documentary that ran Sunday in an episode of the station’s “FlashPOINT” series. Click above to check it out -

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Aluminum concentrations down, but still above safe levels

GoDanRiver staff | Posted: Friday, February 28, 2014 4:55 pm
The latest water-quality tests show that concentrations of iron and aluminum in the Dan River near the site of the Eden coal ash spill continue to decrease, but aluminum still exceeds surface water quality standards at all upstream and downstream sampling locations.
Iron concentrations are now within state surface water quality standards at three of the four sampling stations, according to a news release from the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources.
Iron exceeds surface water quality standards at the Milton, N.C., site, the site farthest downstream from the spill, staff with the department reported Thursday. DENR’s latest test results come from water quality samples the state agency collected through Feb. 10 upstream and downstream of the coal ash spill site.
Of the 28 metals DENR is testing for near the coal ash spill, iron and aluminum are the two metals at or above surface water quality standards, according to the department.
Some initial water quality samples taken downstream of the spill site indicated levels beyond state surface water standards for arsenic, iron, aluminum and copper, according to the department. However, subsequent tests taken at the same sites have shown that neither arsenic nor copper exceed surface water standards.
Iron and aluminum have been high in historic water quality sampling conducted prior to the coal ash spill and are naturally occurring in soils in North Carolina, according to the department.
Duke Energy discovered the coal ash spill at its Dan River power plant Feb. 2. The DENR has been conducting tests to assess the spill’s effects on the river since staff members in DENR were notified of the spill Feb. 3, according to the department.
DENR staff members are also collecting and testing sediments in the river and collecting and testing fish tissues to determine whether fish are safe to eat, according to the department. Meanwhile, state public health officials have advised people not to eat fish from the Dan River and avoid prolonged contact with the water.
“These tests will help us better understand the extent of the damage to the Dan River caused by the coal ash spill,” said Tom Reeder, director of the N.C. Division of Water Resources. “Characterizing the spill’s impacts on water quality as well as fish and sediment will better inform cleanup efforts.”
On Wednesday, Duke Energy resumed removal of some of the 300 cubic yards of coal ash deposited in the shallow areas of the river near where the initial coal ash spilled into the Dan River. Efforts to remove portions of the coal ash deposit in deeper water have been halted and will resume when river conditions are safer, according to the department. Assessments are ongoing to identify other areas in the Dan River where larger coal ash deposits can be removed.

There’s no time for games, excuses or delays. SIGN our petition urging NC to act now to clean-up ALL 33 of these unsafe toxic coal ash lagoons:

Five More Duke Energy Power Plants Cited For Storing Coal Waste Improperly

By Joanna M. Foster on March 4, 2014 at 1:38 pm
The North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) on Monday cited five more Duke Energy power plants for not having storm water permits.

These citations follow two others issued Friday against the Dan River Steam Station in Eden, where, on February 2, 39,000 tons of coal ash were funneled through a broken storm water pipe under a coal ash pond and into the Dan River.
Duke Energy faces potential fines of $25,000 per day, per violation. Regulators say they are still in the process of assessing how coal ash is stored at all 14 of Duke’s sites in North Carolina. Coal ash is a toxic sludge left over from the burning of coal in old power plants.

“It is shocking that Duke Energy was openly violating the most fundamental requirements of clean water laws, and discharging industrial storm water directly into the Dan River illegally,” Frank Holleman, senior attorney at the Southern Environmental Law Center told the Los Angeles Times.
Duke has 30 days from the issuance of the violation notices to make its case to the DENR before fines are set.

The five new citations were issued against Belews Creek Steam Station in Rockingham County, Cliffside Steam Station in Rutherford County, Lee Steam Electric Plant in Wayne County, Roxboro Steam Electric Power Plant in Person County, and Sutton Steam Electric Plant in New Hanover County.

Storm water permits are required for rainwater draining from the plants into public waterways. Last week, the Associated Press filed a public records request for a copy of Duke’s storm water permit for the Dan River plant and was told that the permit did not exist.

Also last week, internal emails and other records uncovered through a public records request by the Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC) show that regulators at the DENR knew about the six Duke plants without permits back in 2009.

Both the DENR and Duke Energy received subpoenas from federal prosecutors investigating the relationship between the utility giant and the agency charged with regulating it.

Groups like the Southern Environmental Law Center have said for years that DENR has
ignored leaks at 32 Duke Energy coal ash storage basins.

When SELC attempted to sue Duke Energy over the leaks, the suit was blocked by a DENR suit which resulted in what environmental groups decried as a sweetheart deal where the utility was given a slap on the wrist fine and was only required to study the sites, not actually take action to stop the problem.