Submitted by scharrison on Thu, 07/17/2014 - 10:35am
If this is what they call "success," one would hate to see them fail:
Since the operation began on May 6, approximately 2,500 tons of coal ash and river sediment have been removed from this location. Crews and equipment were staged at Abreu-Grogan Park in Danville for the past three months.
The company previously completed removal of ash and sediment from water treatment facilities in Danville and South Boston, as well as from locations in the river at the Dan River Steam Station and Town Creek, two miles downstream from the plant. More than 500 tons of coal ash and river sediment were removed from these areas.
Do the math. A low-end estimate on the spill had some 39,000 tons of ash released, and this combined 3,000 tons removed included an unknown quantity of non-ash sediment. What's left in the river could be closer to 95%. And the General Assembly wants to give Duke Energy "more flexibility" in the cleanup/relocation of all the other coal ash ponds?
“The Senate bill was weak to begin with,” said Kemp Burdette, Riverkeeper with Cape Fear River Watch, “it got even weaker in the House.” The legislation, he said, still does not spell out how DENR and the new coal ash commission should evaluate the sites.
Burdette toured the ash ponds at Duke’s Chatham County plant at the other end of the Cape Fear River on Friday and said the ponds should have been on the high priority list from the outset. The site did make the list briefly, after a coalition of Democrats and Sandhills Republicans won a vote on an amendment to add it to the priority list. The win was later overturned after House leaders intervened. Burdette said given what he saw on Friday, taking the Cape Fear ponds off the list seemed wrong.
“It looks pretty bad,” he said. “There are multiple seeps. The ponds are leaking. All five of [the ponds’ dams] are ranked as high hazard and they are arguably the most dangerous in the state.”
Common sense and science don't stand a chance when politics intervenes.
“We knew we had paid it,” said customer Billy McCorquodale. "I noticed that it was lots more than it normally was, and I said, ‘Hey, something is wrong. Something's not jiving here.’”
His bill included a past due amount of $135.60.
“So, we called them,” McCorquodale said. “They come up with the fact, ‘Well, it takes time for a check to go through the bank’ rah rah rah this and that.”
McCorquodale’s canceled check proves it was cashed two days before the bill was due. He faxed a copy to Duke Energy. On his next bill, there was still no credit. McCorquodale was told to pay again, right away, to keep his power on. So, he paid $135.60 twice.
As part of a long-running legal tussle, the Durham university and John Wayne Enterprises have been fighting over “Duke” trademarks and whether the family of the star of countless classic westerns can brand their bourbon with the name they want.
A press release, via Carolina Mercury on Facebook. Very glad to see the Southern Environmental Law Center taking it to the McCrory administration for their criminal negligence involving coal ash.
Clean Water Act Violations from Coal Ash Noticed on Three North Carolina Rivers
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – The Southern Environmental Law Center today gave notice to Duke Energy and the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources that it plans to enforce the federal Clean Water Act to clean up coal ash pits on the Cape Fear, Neuse, and Yadkin Rivers. The notices were filed on behalf of Cape Fear River Watch, Neuse Riverkeeper Foundation, Yadkin Riverkeeper, and Waterkeeper Alliance. The notices address coal ash pollution and dam safety issues at Duke Energy’s Cape Fear plant (Cape Fear River), Lee plant (Neuse River), and Buck plant (Yadkin River).
The proposal, which was released to members of the House environment committee on Tuesday, would move a commission overseeing the cleanup under the oversight of the state Department of Environment and Natural Resources (under a previous proposal, the commission would have been independent) and grants the governor authority to appoint the chair of the nine-person body.
Notably to Democrats and environmental observers who have complained as the Republican-led legislature has grappled with the coal ash issue, the new proposal doesn’t change the Senate’s requirement that Duke deal with its ponds within 15 years. And it doesn’t specify whom – the utility company or its customers – will pay for the expensive process of removing the coal ash.
I've seen numerous commenters on social media lately opine that if Duke Energy needs to raise its rates to get the coal ash cleaned up, they'd be fine with it. What they don't understand: Duke Energy's quarterly profits are huge, and they would only have to divert a fraction of those profits to clean up their own mess. They could have been doing so all along, but they chose to keep the money or enhance their stock position by giving healthy dividends. That was their choice, not ours, so the responsibility lies squarely on their shoulders.
Submitted by libertypoint on Mon, 06/30/2014 - 9:34am
by J.J. Summerell
While I'm no apologist for Duke Energy, I understand the dilemma the company faces in responding to the Dan River coal-ash spill.
Because we must buy electricity, and Duke Energy is virtually the state’s only provider, it is a natural monopoly. Why would it have faced any financial barriers to ensuring the environmental safety of its power plants and transmission facilities? Microeconomics theory indicates that Duke could have easily raised prices to cover the costs of environmental-protection measures.
That didn't happen because Duke operates in a contradictory regulatory environment.
This month, Duke was again cited by NCDENR (the Department of Environment and Natural Resources) for deficiencies in five steam stations in the state, including the Cliffside Steam Station in Rutherford and Cleveland counties. According to a June 13 notice of deficiency, the Cliffside station’s inactive coal ash basin has a dam between it and the Broad River.
“The condition of the…structure appears serious. Your dam is categorized as a high hazard dam,” the notice reads. “In the event of dam failure, significant environmental damage to the Broad River could occur due to the release of coal ash stored behind the dam.”
If you'll remember, the Cliffside Steam Station has been the subject of much controversy in recent years, with the construction of a new coal-burning facility that many believed was unnecessary and would be dirtier than predicted. Permits were granted anyway, but in the future, such new construction should require an assessment of the entire Station's grounds, including "retired" coal ash ponds. Fix "a" before proceeding with "b", or the permit for "b" will not be forthcoming. I know. Makes too much sense.
Duke has said it plans to pay for damage caused by the Dan River spill – the bill also would require the utility to pay for cleaning up any future ash spills – but it plans to pass as much of the rest of the cleanup cost on to customers through higher electric rates.
Sen. Mike Woodard, D-Durham, tried to introduce an amendment that would have required Duke to pick up the entire tab of the cleanup, but Apodaca said that decision should be left up to the state Utilities Commission. He then used a parliamentary procedure to kill the Woodard's amendment without a vote.
That angered Sen. Josh Stein, D-Wake, who asked that Apodaca allow a vote on the proposal. Apodaca twice refused, even once when he was bargaining with Stein to withdraw a separate amendment that would require liners on any ash ponds allowed to remain where they are. Apodaca said he would work with Stein on his proposal, which could resurface Wednesday.
It's apparent Apodaca was afraid to put this to a floor vote, because he knew it would either pass or expose more Republican Senators to the ire of voters if it was voted down. Whatever the case, the leadership is guilty of dereliction of duty, and should be removed.
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