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People impacted by coal ash in North Carolina form alliance [with video] — WBTV News

By David Whisenant

People from across North Carolina who have been impacted in some way by coal ash have announced a new alliance that combines environmental groups and other advocacy groups.

The announcement was made Wednesday morning in the General Assembly press room in Raleigh.

Leaders said the point of the announcement was to show that people from across the state have deep concerns about the way Duke Energy is handling coal ash created at the fourteen Duke coal plants across North Carolina, and they want to draw attention to the issue.

“Coal ash is the byproduct of burning coal and Duke Energy stores over 108 million tons of it in leaky pits and landfills across North Carolina. Duke’s coal ash is illegally leaking into surface waters that supply millions of North Carolinians’ drinking water,” ACT leaders said. “The waste is laden with toxic heavy metals, including hexavalent chromium, a carcinogen found at unsafe levels in hundreds of drinking water wells within 1,000 feet of Duke’s N.C. Coal Ash ponds.”

Those in attendance frequently used the phrase “we’re statewide, unified, and here to stay.”

One of the speakers was Larry Mathis of Belmont.  His home is near the Allen plant.  Several months ago he was warned that his well, and about two hundred others, produced water with higher than average levels of certain toxins.  Dozens of residents of Rowan County who live near the Buck Steam plant were told the same thing.

“Our water was found to have 38 times the state standard for vanadium,” Mathis said. “So far, the best that Duke can do is just to provide us some bottled water, and only for about two more months.”

Mathis said that he discovered that Duke had used more than 278,000 tons of coal ash to fill a ravine in his backyard.

“Duke says they are not responsible for the contaminated water but are being a good neighbor by providing the bottled water, but good neighbors don’t pollute, and they take responsibility for their actions,” Mathis added.  “It’s time for Duke Energy to own up to its mistakes and do the right thing, and then will be the good neighbor it needs to be.”

Tracey Edwards, who lives near the Belew’s Creek plant, believes toxic coal ash contributes to her mother’s early death.  She brought a large picture of her mother’s grave to make her point.

“I used to go and visit my mother daily, now this is where I have to go an visit her, she died prematurely, she was only 64 years old.  She grew up with asthma, she had neurological problems with her arm and she had heart disease, and we have lived in that area for all of our lives.”

Bobby Jones of Goldsboro urged Governor Pat McCrory to visit his neighborhood, but offered one caveat: “just don’t drink the water.”

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