Coal Ash

dan river coal ash cleanup
David Boraks / WFAE

The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights says coal ash ponds and landfills disproportionately affect poor and minority communities across the U.S. But that’s not what North Carolina officials found when they conducted their own “environmental justice reviews” of two sites this year.

The Dan River at Danville, Va. appears gray and coal ash accumulates in eddies downriver from the Dan River Steam Station in Eden, NC after a break in a storm water pipe underneath a coal ash pond at the plant.
John D. Simmons / Charlotte Observer

Duke Energy and state environmental regulators have settled a dispute over the size of a state fine over a coal ash spill near Duke's Dan River plant in Eden in February 2014.  

Duke agreed to pay $6 million for violations of the federal Clean Water Act during and after the spill in February 2014.

Buck Steam Station closed in 2013. Coal ash is stored in basins around the retired plant.
Duke Energy


   New tests have found high levels of arsenic and other chemicals in the Yadkin River, near Duke Energy's retired Buck coal plant in Salisbury. Duke doesn't dispute the test results, but disagrees with environmentalists over what the results mean for water quality.

  One  of the world's largest investment funds is selling all its Duke Energy bonds and shares. The government of Norway's pension fund has been a major Duke investor. But lately it's been divesting from companies that make money by mining or burning coal.

A worker delivers bottled water to a home in Belmont, near Duke Energy's Allen coal plant. Duke will provide a permament drinking water supply to well owners by 2018.
David Boraks / WFAE

State environmental officials are notifying owners of private wells near Duke Energy coal plants that they'll be getting new permanent water supplies or home water filters by late 2018.

Duke Energy wants answers on how testimony by a state toxicologist was leaked to the Associated Press three weeks ago. Duke believes an environmental group is responsible, and wants a court hearing on the matter.

Health Of Our Water

Aug 16, 2016
Coal ash ponds at Riverbend Steam Station in Mount Holly.
David Boraks / WFAE

There’s a troubling controversy swirling around the quality of drinking water from wells near coal ash ponds. First, the state said it wasn’t safe to drink. Now they say it is. The governor has accused a state scientist of lying and now his boss has resigned saying she can’t work for a department or administration that would deliberately mislead the public  So, how safe is our water and can we believe what we’re told? 

North Carolina Department of Heath and Human Services

You normally don’t hear much about North Carolina’s state epidemiologist.

But it’s not every day that a scientist sends out a scathing letter of resignation.

That’s just what Dr. Megan Davies did late Tuesday night, citing what she sees as McCory administration officials misleading the public about whether or not well water near unlined coal ash ponds is safe to drink. 

Duke Energy's G.G. Allen Steam Station on Lake Wylie in Gaston County
Aaron Hartley / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

Some well owners near coal plants say the resignation of North Carolina’s epidemiologist confirms what they’ve been saying for months: their water is not safe to drink.

Amy Brown of Belmont lives near Duke's Allen Steam Station and has been receiving bottled water since 2015. She spoke at a rally in March.
David Boraks / WFAE

This week Governor Pat McCrory's office accused a state toxicologist of lying under oath. That came after that toxicologist testified in a lawsuit to force Duke Energy to remove coal ash from one of its North Carolina plants. The testimony has ignited another round of debate over whether well water near Duke coal plants is safe to drink. WFAE environmental reporter David Boraks talked with All Things Considered host Lisa Worf about the news.   

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