Conservation Groups Move to Protect Lakes Norman and Wylie from Coal Ash Pollution
The Southern Environmental Law Center today moved to intervene in the state enforcement action pending in Mecklenburg County Superior Court against Duke Energy’s illegal coal ash pollution at six different locations across North Carolina. Filed on behalf of the Catawba Riverkeeper Foundation, the motion highlights the pollution of the Catawba River and drinking water reservoirs by Duke Energy’s coal ash stored on the banks of Lake Norman and Lake Wylie at Duke Energy’s Allen and Marshall Plants.
“The Catawba River and the region’s drinking water will be protected only if an independent citizen’s group is at the table to make sure that the state and Duke Energy take real action to clean up Duke Energy’s illegal coal ash pollution,” said Frank Holleman, senior attorney at the Southern Environmental Law Center.
Lake Wylie provides drinking water for the cities of Rock Hill, South Carolina, and Belmont, North Carolina. Lake Norman provides drinking water for Huntersville, eastern Lincoln County, Mooresville, Davidson, Cornelius, and the northern portion of Charlotte.
The Southern Environmental Law Center and the Catawba Riverkeeper caused the North Carolina Department of the Environment and Natural Resources to bring an earlier enforcement action against Duke Energy for its illegal pollution of Mountain Island Lake, also a drinking water reservoir near Charlotte. However, DENR and Duke entered into a proposed settlement that does not require Duke Energy to clean up its coal ash pollution, and almost 5000 citizens and organizations submitted comments opposed to the settlement.
“We want to make sure that DENR does not make the same mistake twice and propose a settlement opposed by the entire community that would let Duke Energy off the hook without cleaning up the messes it has made on banks of the region’s drinking water reservoirs,” said Sam Perkins, the Catawba Riverkeeper.
The coal ash lagoons at Allen have sprung leaks and are spilling contaminated water into Lake Norman. Coal ash storage at both the Allen and the Marshall plants has contaminated groundwater right next to the drinking water supplies with pollutants including Boron, Nickel, Manganese, Sulfate, Total Dissolved Solids, and Iron. Seeps at the Allen plant have been found to contain Barium, Boron, Zinc, and Manganese.
DENR filed the pending state enforcement action on August 16, 2013, without the participation of the conservation groups that had given DENR and Duke notice of the illegal pollution. Today’s intervention motion seeks to bring the Catawba Riverkeeper Foundation into the case as a party, like DENR and Duke Energy.
The North Carolina court previously ordered that the Catawba Riverkeeper Foundation will intervene as a matter of right in the pending suit dealing with Mountain Island Lake. Today’s intervention motion asks for the same action for Lake Norman and Lake Wylie.
About the Catawba Riverkeeper Foundation
The Catawba Riverkeeper Foundation is a nonprofit organization with members in South and North Carolina that works to protect and restore the Catawba/Wateree River and its watershed.