Coal Ash

Of all the sources of power commonly used today, none is dirtier-from cradle to grave-than coal. Coal burned to generate power is a leading source of air pollution and a significant contributor to global warming. Coal ash, the by-product left over after the combustion of coal is the long-term legacy of settling for cheap rather than smart energy. Even after coal burning power plants upgrade to cleaner fuels, as the Lower Cape Fear’s LV Sutton Plant will do in 2014, coal ash storage ponds will continue to leak into our groundwater, polluting our aquifers and threatening our health and our environment. Contamination from the Sutton coal ash ponds is spreading outside of the containment boundary established by the state and it will continue to spread until the ponds are cleaned up and the coal ash is safely stored in lined containment areas.

On February 2nd of 2014 a coal ash pond stormwater drain broke at the Duke Energy Plant along the Dan River in NC.  As a result coal ash was able to leak into the Dan River.  This incident is the 3rd worst coal ash spill in the nation.

On February 25th of 2014 our very own Riverkeeper and Executive Director Kemp Burdette spoke out in an editorial about how industry has made weakening environmental regulations top priority.
“The past few weeks have been tough for rivers and the communities that depend on them for drinking water, jobs and recreation. Since January, we’ve witnessed the catastrophe in West Virginia where a chemical spill left 300,000 people unable to drink or even bathe in their water; the 3.5 million gallons of raw sewage spilled into the Haw River, a major tributary of the Cape Fear and the drinking water supply for nearby Burlington, illegally hidden from the public by officials with the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources; and most recently, a massive spill of coal ash into the Dan River near Eden, N.C., from ponds just like those at the Duke Energy’s Sutton Steam Plant here in New Hanover County.

What do these events say about the recent actions by the N.C. General Assembly to weaken environmental regulations and hamstring the agencies responsible for enforcing the regulations that we have left? Read more from that editorial here…

It is going to take a lot of hard work to get these devastated areas recovered. Will you help us clean up coal ash ponds in the Cape Fear River and throughout NC? Please consider supporting our work with a $5 monthly donation.


Following Coal Ash in the News

3/3/2014 – North Carolina cites five more power plants in massive coal ash spill

3/4/2014 – Emails: NC regulators knew for years Duke power plants lacked permits

3/10/2014 – Residents outraged about possibility of paying for coal ash cleanup

3/11/2014 – Third pipe at Dan River plant leaking coal ash toxins, EPA says

3/14/2014 –  I-Team investigates coal ash ponds on Cape Fear River

 3/15/2014 – Questions as More Wastewater Flows in North Carolina 

Other Resources

Timeline of events in the Dan River Spill – VIEW HERE