Citizen Group Seeks Voice in Coal Ash Pollution Actions at Duke Energy’s Roxboro and Mayo Facilities
CHAPEL HILL, N.C.— On behalf of the Roanoke River Basin Association, the Southern Environmental Law Center today filed a request with Wake County Superior Court that the citizens group be allowed to participate in the pending coal ash enforcement actions against Duke Energy for its coal ash pollution at its Roxboro Steam Station in Person County on Hyco Lake and its Mayo Steam Station on Mayo Lake near Roxboro.
“Local communities must be at the table to protect themselves and their clean water from coal ash catastrophes,” said Frank Holleman, senior attorney at the Southern Environmental Law Center. “Today, we’re making sure that the people of the Roanoke River Basin have a say in what happens with Duke Energy’s coal ash in their watershed.”
Both Roxboro and Mayo are near North Carolina’s border with Virginia and are in the same watershed as Duke Energy’s Dan River plant, which had a disastrous coal ash spill in February of 2014.
“We do not want another coal ash disaster in the Roanoke River Basin,” said Gene Addesso, president of the Roanoke River Basin Association. “We will be fighting in these cases to see that our rivers are protected from toxic coal ash pollution.”
The coal ash dams at both Roxboro and Mayo are High Hazard dams according to the state of North Carolina. Duke Energy stores 6.9 million tons of coal ash at is Mayo plant and 16.4 million tons at its Roxboro plant. Most of Duke Energy’s coal ash is stored in unlined pits that pollute groundwater and surface water. Duke University scientists have found elevated levels of arsenic and other coal ash pollution in Hyco Lake and Mayo Lake in recent years. Fish deformities due to selenium coal ash poisoning have been found in Mayo Lake, and in 2008 a coal ash dam at Roxboro had a structural failure.
In response to Clean Water Act notices issued by the Southern Environmental Law Center and local conservation groups, in August 2013 the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources filed enforcement actions against Duke Energy for violating clean water laws at Roxboro and Mayo. The motion to intervene filed today asks the court to allow the Roanoke River Basin Association to participate as a party in that litigation, like DENR, Duke Energy, and other conservation groups.
To date, the court has granted several motions filed by the Southern Environmental Law Center to allow conservation groups across the state to participate as full parties for 12 of the 14 Duke Energy coal ash sites at issue. The motion filed on behalf of the Roanoke River Basin Association deals with the remaining two sites, Mayo and Roxboro.
About the Roanoke River Basin Association
The Roanoke River Basin Association is a non-profit organization based in Danville, Virginia, whose mission is to establish and carry out a strategy for the development, use, preservation and enhancement of the resources of the Roanoke River system of lakes and streams in the best interest of present and future generations. RRBA consists of hundreds of members, primarily located within the 410-mile-long Roanoke River basin in Virginia and North Carolina, including local governments; non-profit, civic and community organizations; regional government entities; businesses and individuals. http://prod.rrba.org/.
About the Southern Environmental Law Center
The Southern Environmental Law Center is a regional nonprofit using the power of the law to protect the health and environment of the Southeast (Virginia, Tennessee, North and South Carolina, Georgia, and Alabama). Founded in 1986, SELC's team of more than 60 legal and policy experts represent more than 100 partner groups on issues of climate change and energy, air and water quality, forests, the coast and wetlands, transportation, and land use.