Duke Energy said Monday that an unknown amount of coal ash was released from a pond at its retired Dan River power plant in Eden into the Dan River.
Duke said a stormwater pipe beneath the ash pond broke Sunday afternoon. Water from the 27-acre pond drained into the stormwater pipe. A team is still trying to stop the flow from the pipe, Duke said Monday afternoon.
As nasty as Burlington's raw sewage spill was, this is even nastier. A toxic soup of poisons and heavy metals unleashed, and there's not a damned thing Duke can do to mitigate the damage downstream. It's time for the courts to deal with this, because elected officials and industry aren't going to.
Duke Energy wants the North Carolina Utilities Commission to let the company pay for rooftop solar power what it pays for other types of generated power.
Owners of rooftop solar systems sign contracts with Duke Energy that allow them to sell surplus electricity for 11 cents per kilowatt hour, the same price households pay for electricity.
If individual residential Solar owners charged Duke the way Duke charges the rest of us (or tries to, anyway), they would force a much higher rate down Duke Energy's throat to cover the cost of their construction within a few short years. But that's not how it works. Even at 11 cents per kilowatt hour, the return on investment for a residential Solar PV array goes well past the ten year mark. But if Duke Energy gets its way on this pricing request, the ROI for many will be extended, adding years to the payoff, and causing many who are contemplating this to change their mind. Which is the (real) goal of Duke Energy.
In the midst of such a serious challenge, however, we find it disingenuous and irresponsible that you have chosen to aggressively, publicly, and inaccurately blame environmental organizations for this bridge closure. As a result of your urging, we have been at the receiving end of multiple threats based on misinformation you have provided. Rather than continue with these irresponsible public attacks, we encourage you to provide the leadership required to resolve the closure as quickly as possible and to focus on developing a long term solution to replace Bonner Bridge that ensures safe and dependable transportation to Hatteras Island.
Make no mistake, the Republicans are wetting their pants at the prospect of endangering the safety of the attorneys working for the Southern Environmental Law Center. The group has been a thorn in the side of irresponsible developers and polluting industries, and the GOP would love nothing better than to sweep this organization out of the way. And the bridge is only part of this story. A comment I posted on Facebook:
The pollution is likely responsible for a 50% reduction in largemouth bass in the lake, says Dennis Lemly, an associate professor of biology at Wake Forest who written a new study of the lake's fish population. He says he has direct evidence that selenium poisoning is killing an estimated 900,000 bluegill in the lake every year.
He put the value of the fish killed at between $4.5 million and $7 million per year. And he said selenium leaching from the ponds is leaving thousands more fish deformed.
Of course Duke Energy disputes this study, even though they've known for years that the Sutton coal ash situation has been deteriorating steadily. And it's not just the fish that are being adversely impacted, Sutton leaks are ruining the water table in the area, as well:
The event at Blandwood drew about 100 guests to hear McCrory and Martin, the honorary Morehead Forum chairman, say they hope the conference series that debuts next year helps bring the state as many good things as Gov. Morehead did with his focus on railroad construction, other forms of transportation and public education.
“Whether Republican or Democrat, education, economic development and energy, these are the things we have to have in this state,” said McCrory, who grew up in Jamestown after his family relocated from Columbus, Ohio.
I'm not sure "focus" is one of our current Governor's strong suits. And no offense to Taft Wireback, but this is not a direct quote. I just watched (News14) McCrory make his statement, and he rattled off the education and economic development just fine, but then did a squirrel-in-the-middle-of-the-road thing with his head before blurting out "Energy!" And if he hadn't been a former(?) Duke Energy employee, the missing "E" might just as easily have been "Eggs!" or "Elephants!" For God's sake, there's only three of them. Even a pre-k student can keep up with that many important words.
“It's really a very simple notion,” said Frank Holleman, an attorney for the Southern Environmental Law Center, which is now suing Duke Energy over coal ash disposal. “It's not cutting edge technology; it's just basic common sense.”
Environmental groups like the Catawba Riverkeeper are suing Duke Energy to prompt the utility to get moving and clean up the remaining coal ash. But Duke is in no hurry. “We don't act hastily,” said Duke spokeswoman Lisa Hoffmann. “We base all our decisions on science and engineering; that's the kind of business we run.”
Of course they're in no hurry. They've bought and paid for the Governor's mansion, 3/4 of the Legislature and most of the NC Utilities Commission, and they've been able to get a bumbling idiot installed at DENR. Why go to the trouble and expense of stacking the deck if you're still going to have to pay for all those pesky cleanup jobs? The only "science" Duke Energy engages in is political science.
The Allen Steam Station has both unpermitted discharges (seeps) and groundwater violations at wells around the site. The Marshall Steam Station was cited only for groundwater violations. In November 2012, the Riverkeeper reported unpermitted discharges at Allen to the EPA and the State. Investigating this summer, multiple other unpermitted discharges were discovered and tested. The liquid seeping out from the Allen coal ash lagoons have manganese (a neurotoxin) at 44 times the standard, cobalt at 39 times the standard, and boron at 1.2 times the standard.
Every day that passes with no efforts on the part of Duke Energy to mitigate these threats leaks more toxins into our precious water supplies, and the problem isn't restricted to a specific region or geologic formation. The same thing is happening near the coast, and you can't put that poisonous genie back into the bottle.
The two lawsuits filed in Mecklenburg and Wake counties Friday cite groundwater pollution at all 12 of the plants and illegal seepage from ash ponds at most of them. Among them are Allen on Lake Wylie in Gaston County and Marshall on Lake Norman in Catawba County. The suits say ash violations, if not corrected, “pose a serious danger to the health, safety and welfare of the people of the state of North Carolina and serious harm to the water resources of the state.”
On the surface this seems to be a good thing, but the across-the-board nature of these filings raises some questions. Will the court be asked to look at the problem as an "average", where relatively clean sites make the dirty ones seem less so? Or is this move merely preemptive in nature, to keep others from filing suits:
Riverbend has been portrayed in recent years as a looming menace. Nothing could be further from the truth. The employees who operated the station for more than eight decades did so with dedication to safety, environmental stewardship and operational excellence. Since Riverbend’s retirement, barely a trickle of water returns to Mountain Island Lake from the plant’s ash basins.
Are some of those unpermitted discharges? That’s a technical legal question.
Are they impacting the water quality in Mountain Island Lake? Absolutely not.
In a proposed order that will be open for public comment for 30 days, Duke agrees to assess the sources and extent of contamination at Riverbend and at its Asheville power plant. Duke would be fined $99,000 if the order becomes final. “We must know the extent of any contamination before a meaningful corrective action plan can be carried out,” said Jamie Kritzer, a spokesman for the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources.
Really? You're going to rely on (and apparently are dependent upon) the company responsible for the pollution to yell you how bad the pollution is, before you can come up with a "meaningful" plan? What part of "conflict of interest" do you not understand? It's not unlike asking a criminal to prosecute himself, frankly, and is so far off the mark from what the public expects from the DENR that it boggles the mind.
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