Start watching at the 1:30 mark, where you'll find something like this:
We've cut corners for years to barely comply with environmental regulations, including coal ash. Now that the jig is up, we're going to pass the full cost of fixing the problems to you consumers. You've already paid once for us to put the ash in sub-standard holding ponds, and now you're going to pay again for us to move the mess somewhere else. Don't forget. We're Duke Energy. We own your deputy assistant governor, and we own this state. Get used to it.
On the Dan, determining the health of low-lying river creatures such as mussels, clams, crawfish and dragonflies will determine the health of the fish in the river, and later, the birds and animals that feed on those fish. The fear, said Brian Williams, also a Dan River Basin Association program manager, is that the entire food chain along the upper Dan could be imperiled by the presence of coal ash and its poisonous heavy metals. (The Dan River stretches some 200 miles; about 70 miles is affected by the spill.)
Already, though, Williams described the river bottom on the Dan a mile or two below the spill as a virtual “kill zone” for macroinvertebrates because of the amount of toxic sludge that’s settled. At the spill site, there is a coal ash bar some five feet thick and 75 feet long. Coal ash has been detected along the river bottom some 70 miles eastward downstream — all the way to the John Kerr Reservoir north of Raleigh.
Even those critters who survive this calamity will absorb toxins and heavy metals, which will form a bioaccumulation chain that will eventually make any fish pulled from the river or Kerr Lake inedible. Or, more precisely, fish that shouldn't be eaten. Humans are also subject to bioaccumulation.
Regulators have known about problems with Sutton's unlined ash pits for years, but never took enforcement action until August 16 — after the citizens groups tried to sue Duke. In its court filings, the state environmental agency said monitoring wells consistently showed high levels of arsenic, selenium, thallium and other potentially deadly chemicals. In October, the company agreed to pay at least $1.5 million of a $2.25 million Cape Fear Public Utility Authority project to run new water lines to Flemington.
The pollution poses no current health risk to the drinking wells, Duke spokesman Thomas Williams said in an email. But the company was involved in the project to "prevent that possibility."
"This will continue to assure a high quality water supply for these customers, give them peace of mind and provides additional economic development benefits for that area," Williams said.
Right, just like New Jersey is enjoying "economic development benefits" rebuilding homes that were destroyed by flooding. What about the $750,000 balance the taxpayers are footing for running these water lines, or the monthly water bills these residents are going to have to pay going down the road, because you f$%ked up their drinking water wells?
Submitted by teddyrooseveltp... on Tue, 03/04/2014 - 9:34am
The NY Times is out with an in-depth look at the change in culture at the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, with administration officials forcing staffers to concentrate on "customer service", giving Duke Energy a slap on the wrist.
Amy Adams, a former supervisor who left the agency last year, said that the mantra of the current leadership was about “customer service,” but that did not include citizens who might live downstream from a polluter.
She and others said they were told to stop writing Notices of Violation to polluters, which can prompt fines, and instead to issue a Notice of Deficiency, which she likened to a state trooper giving a warning instead of a speeding ticket.
Gov. Pat McCrory spoke to reporters before touring the industrial giant Siemens’ offices in Cary, bluntly criticizing Duke Energy for how it handled the early stages of the spill of coal ash near its Rockingham County plant on Feb. 2. “Frankly, I’ve been very concerned about the lack of information that we initially received on the Dan River incident regarding what infrastructure was actually below the coal ash,” McCrory said. “They did not seem to know until the accident occurred that they had some infrastructural breakdown. ... To me, that raises a lot of issues, not only at that plant but what else is occurring at other potential sites that currently have coal ash?”
Bolding mine. McCrory is trying to float the idea that the stormwater pipes existed under the ash basin without DENR's knowledge, but that is a blatant lie. All stormwater infrastructure is covered within the NPDES Permit system, including this one:
Cozy. Environmental advocates and government watchdogs used the word frequently last week to describe the relationship between Duke Energy and Gov. Pat McCrory.
The company gave $748,000 directly to his campaigns in 2008 and 2012, critics noted. Duke employees donated another $410,000.
Margaret goes on to explain that Duke Energy has given lots of money to both parties, but the utility's support of other individual candidates pales in comparison to what it has provided for McCrory in the past. But what may be even more important in determining how the McCrory administration will handle the coal ash crisis is Pat's future campaign needs. The 2016 Gubernatorial race is going to be expensive, and (in McCrory's mind anyway) the more it costs Duke to fix the coal ash mess, the less he will get. And that is the heart and soul of a conflict of interest.
Submitted by teddyrooseveltp... on Sun, 02/23/2014 - 9:12am
The Greensboro News and Record has two reports this morning on the coal ash spill.
Tourism businesses speak out about how the spill has impacted them, with fears that Duke Energy has tarnished the reputation of the area in the same way that that BP ruined small businesses in the Guil with the oil spill in 2010. Fox8 in Greensboro also looked at how local businesses are being impacted the spill two days ago.
North Carolina’s massive coal ash spill into the Dan River this month was decades in the making. But for much of that period, the lagoons where ash is stored attracted little attention or regulatory oversight.
In the past five years, that attitude slowly started to change, as it became increasingly clear that Duke Energy’s coal ash pits across the state were leaching toxins into the environment.
The blowout at a Duke lagoon near Eden on Feb. 2 has refocused attention on the power company’s 14 ash storage sites and raised a host of questions about how Duke and state regulators have dealt with an issue that was known to pose serious risks to the environment.
Read more at the Raleigh News and Observer. This is a long, comprehensive report.
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