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Sunday, November 30, 2014

BLACK FRIDAYS


Friends,

As we are celebrating the conspicuous consumption holi-day after Thanksgiving, I thought I would introduce you to a different "Black Friday." On Friday, November 14, 2014, residents and some local officials of Lee and Chatham Counties were stunned to learn that Duke Energy planned on dumping millions of tons of coal ash in old clay mines located there. Chatham and Lee counties are already targeted for fracking, and now they are being targeted again by dirty energy. Duke Energy and the North Carolina are touting this as the "reuse" of coal ash- in truth the plan is establishing coal ash landfills while not being required to follow many of the requirements that would be placed on the siting of a municipal solid waste landfill in any North Carolina county-including requiring local approval. On Friday, November 21, 2014, Duke Energy's contractor and the owner of the sites, Charah, Inc., submitted applications to the Division of Waste Management (DWM), and the Division of Energy, Mines, and Land Resources (DEMLR) to develop the old mines as "structural fills," On Wednesday, November 26, 2014 (let's just call it a Friday news dump being the day before the Thanksgiving holiday) The North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) released a press statement which said, in part:

"Duke Energy announced Nov. 13 its intentions to reuse coal ash by shipping some of it from the Riverbend Steam Station in Mount Holly and the L.V. Sutton Steam Electric Plant in Wilmington to the open-pit clay mines in Chatham and Lee counties. The utility has also announced plans to reuse some coal ash at its Asheville Power Plant at an existing lined structural fill project at the Asheville Regional Airport and to reuse some of the coal ash from the Dan River facility at an existing lined landfill in Jetersville, Va."

After reviewing both applications to DEMLR and DWM, the numbers being reported in the media and the press release by DENR don't seem to match up.

From the permit documents submitted to DENR:

Lee County: DEMLR and DWM Applications
10: Number of years for which the mining permit is requested.
8,800,000 tons: Quantity of coal ash to be disposed of.
Power Generation Facilities Located in North Carolina and South Carolina: Proposed service areas the coal ash may come from.

Chatham County: DEMLR and DWM Applications
10: Number of years for which the mining permit is requested.
12,800,000 tons: Quantity of coal ash to be disposed of.
Power Generation Facilities Located in North Carolina and South Carolina: Proposed service areas the coal ash may come from.

Both the sites raise questions of environmental justice. There are questions of who knew what and when they knew it. Why the legislation passed this summer was widely considered dead and came back to life like a zombie. DENR and Duke may try and use pretty words- but the fact remains that millions of tons of coal ash-and its liability- are being dumped on Lee and Chatham counties.