Over the last year, environmental groups have tried three times to use the federal Clean Water Act to force Duke Energy to clear out leaky coal ash dumps like the one that ruptured last week, spewing enough toxic sludge into a North Carolina river to fill 73 Olympic-sized pools. Each time, they say, their efforts have been stymied by the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources. The state agency has blocked the citizen lawsuits by intervening at the last minute to assert its own authority under the federal act to take enforcement action. After negotiating with Duke, the state proposed settlements where the nation's largest electricity provider pays modest fines but is under no requirement to actually clean up its coal ash ponds.
The North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources said it had incorrectly reported that results of water samples taken Feb. 3 were within state standards for arsenic, a toxic heavy metal. In fact, the agency said, two samples exceeded the standard of 10 micrograms per liter. “We made an honest mistake while interpreting the results,’’ Tom Reeder, director of the agency’s Division of Water Resources, said in a statement Sunday afternoon.
No worries Tom. Just smile and be happy.
For those interested in the effects of arsenic poisoning, here you go.
It's too bad DENR is operating under a cloud of suspicion. I'm sure Reeder's team is approaching their work with great diligence. Of course, they're always looking over their shoulders to see if Skvarla is going to intervene with a political agenda that trumps public safety.