The unmitigated arrogance is breathtaking:
Duke Energy spokeswoman Erin Culbert took issue with a recent press release from the Waterkeeper Alliance pointing out the high radium levels. She accused the “critic groups” of “drawing conclusions at this early stage to simply use this milestone to advance their agenda.”
“They seek to sign up North Carolinians for the most extreme, most disruptive and most expensive way to close basins, Culbert continued. “That’s not prudent for the environment, communities or families’ energy bills.”
Bolding mine. In a nutshell, she's trying to shift the blame for future higher energy bills from the party responsible for contaminating the water (Duke Energy) onto the shoulders of those who are working diligently to keep people safe from such irresponsible behavior. It doesn't get much more sleazy than that. It's like blaming the person who called 911 about a neighbor's house being on fire. And make no mistake, this particular house fire is out of control:
Once the contaminants have entered the groundwater, they can be very difficult to remove. Over decades, radium decays, but it does not dilute, as would water contaminated with arsenic for example. Water and soil contaminated with radium must by physically excavated or pumped out. Then the contaminated material has to be properly disposed of in a hazardous waste landfill or other special facility.
Under the state’s Coal Ash Management Act, Duke Energy must provide alternative water, such as filtration systems or water lines, to households within a half-mile of the “compliance boundaries.” Reverse osmosis systems, Vengosh said, would remove many of the contaminants, including radium. “But then the wastewater is enriched with it. What do you do with it?”
Nor does that remedy address groundwater that might be used for irrigation. In rural areas, the groundwater can also feed ponds where livestock and wildlife drink. Groundwater also feeds springs, lakes and rivers. That contamination could enter the drinking water supply through those avenues.
Probably doesn't need to be said again, since I've said it numerous times over the last decade or so, but coal is nasty. It contains some thirty different toxins and heavy metals, and some of the most dangerous of those are classified as "Persistent." Meaning, not only do they survive the burning process used in coal-fired power plants, making the ash that survives highly concentrated with them, they also strongly resist being broken down via organic processes. They *will* bio-accumulate in the bodies of animals and humans, like ticking time-bombs, and disrupt the endocrine systems that regulate pretty much everything that goes on.
The human body is an amazing machine. Not sure we could design it even better than evolution has already. The thing is, it's not perfect, and there's only so much abuse we can heap on it before it just shuts down. But there's a huge difference between "self" abuse and being abused by a billion-dollar industry that has been granted a monopoly by your government.