N.C. residents ask for coal ash cleanup in their communities

The public comment period underway in North Carolina provides residents the chance to weigh in on whether all 14 of Duke Energy’s leaking, unlined coal ash storage sites around the state are moved to dry, lined storage away from waterways. (© Hollis Bennett)

Update: Please note that the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality extended its deadline for public comment on the leaking, unlined coal ash storage at Duke Energy’s Cape Fear, Roxboro, and Mayo facilities until April 25.


North Carolina is in the midst of a public comment period aimed at gathering feedback on how Duke Energy handles its leaking, unlined coal ash sites across the state. Hundreds of North Carolinians across the state have turned out to call for the removal of coal ash and the protection of clean water for their community and families. More meetings are coming up for Duke’s leaking, unlined coal ash sites near Salisbury, the Charlotte area, and Walnut Cove. Public comments will be accepted by email through April 18. (The email addresses for comment and the schedule of meetings can be found here.)

At stake is whether Duke Energy must remove its coal ash to safer, dry lined storage away from groundwater and drinking water sources, or whether it can leave its coal ash to pollute in place and cover it up where the state determines sites and communities might be “low priority”. Hundreds of people are speaking  up to let the state know that their families and communities are not “low priority.”

In question is how the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) ranks each site, as the state-determined rankings establish clean-up standards. After a draft ranking showed DEQ professional staff concluded that almost all of Duke Energy’s coal ash sites pose a high risk to North Carolina’s communities, so should require cleanup, the final report lowered many rankings and aligned them so as to never require clean up beyond what Duke Energy already agreed to with conservation groups in court.

This downgrade occurred while coal ash actually sits in our groundwater along waterways, polluting groundwater, rivers, and drinking water supplies. For decades now, Duke Energy has stored its toxic coal ash in unlined holes in the ground next to our rivers and in our groundwater.

During the current public comment period, residents have the opportunity to request that all of Duke Energy’s coal ash sites be given ratings that mandate the cleanups so clearly needed for communities and rivers across North Carolina. The state is looking for resident feedback on their rankings for these leaking coal ash storage sites, rankings that SELC and our partners have evaluated and find flawed on numerous accounts. You can click here to submit comments on any of Duke’s 14 sites in question.

The people of North Carolina deserve to have clean water protected from the toxic threat of Duke Energy’s unlined, leaking coal ash sites by moving the coal ash to dry, lined storage away from our rivers and groundwater.

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