NC WARN urges CEO to come clean about coal ash plans
Statement by Director Jim Warren:
Durham, NC – Duke Energy’s highly touted announcement that it will dig up millions of tons of coal ash from leaking dumpsites has so far included no information on decontaminating the sites that would be left behind.
Today NC WARN sent CEO Lynn Good a letter seeking information about Duke’s intentions. We also urged her to correct the lousy, secretive process that has led to growing public mistrust about Duke’s coal ash plans.
From the letter: Your publicly available “safe basin closure plans” contain no mention about investigating the extent to which soils and groundwater adjacent to and under each site have been contaminated over the years, nor any process for determining best options for decontaminating those sites. In addition, we find no mention of either the costs of site remediation or the considerable liability attached to those sites in perpetuity.
Based on lessons learned during NC WARN’s ten years at the infamous PCB-dioxin dumpsite in Warren County, I believe the contamination that has already leaked from Duke’s ash dumps will continue migrating for years following removal of coal ash, thus further harming drinking wells and surface waters.
Remediation of contaminated soils and groundwater can take many years and be extremely expensive. Even the early steps – such as creating a comprehensive plan to understand a site’s hydrogeology and determine the extent of contamination – requires specialized expertise, careful planning and community support.
NC WARN has been very critical of Duke’s plans to transfer its coal ash negligence to Chatham and Lee counties. While we fully share the concerns about ongoing contamination of waters at the existing coal ash sites, expanding the number of contaminated sites is no solution – especially when the currently impacted communities will continue suffering from coal ash for decades to come.
Until the safest management approach is determined, coal ash should be stored on Duke Energy property such that it can be monitored and retrieved – but well away from ground and surface water. See our full statement of principles.
So far, we remain concerned that Duke’s coal ash management planning will cause many years of pain for communities near existing coal ash dumps, those targeted for further dumping, and those along transportation routes.