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Duke Energy’s Buck Steam Station has likely been poisoning the groundwater in Dukeville, North Carolina for 80 years. Regulators have known since 2011 that the water contained toxic chemicals, but residents weren‘t told about it. What's worse is Duke Energy doesn't plan to fix the problem, and it looks like the state won’t make them.
Even in the wake of one of the worst coal ash spills in US history, occurring at another Duke plant last February, the best the NC General Assembly seems able to do about this statewide pollution problem is offer a bill that would clean up only 4 out of 14 sites.
Duke and the state claim the leaking coal ash ponds don’t adversely affect Dukeville water supplies or public health or cause significant levels of contaminants. However tests by independent groups prove otherwise. Even more convincing are the numerous cases of cancer and other ailments found in this one small area.
In one extended family alone, two have died from brain cancer, one survived a brain tumor and another prostate cancer.
NC should have made Duke clean up its coal tar ponds ages ago instead of giving the company another free pass to pollute. Senate Bill 729 would let Duke leave 10 coal ash ponds dangerously close to waterways in unlined pits that are currently leaking!
Tell Duke to get its coal ash ponds away from NC waterways!
We, the undersigned, say Duke Energy has had too many free passes and has had more than enough time to clean up and prevent coal ash contamination. It’s time to get a move on!
AP reporters who’ve followed this issue for some time, Michael Biesecker and Mitch Weiss, note that NC could have required Duke to come up with a cleanup plan that would have prevented the spread of contamination. But, “That never happened, state regulators said, because they weren't certain whether coal ash production was to blame or if the substances were naturally occurring.”
As happened with the PPG hexavalent chromium contamination in California (of Erin Brockovick fame), those living near the Dukeville plant were kept in the dark about the high levels of this carcinogen and other toxic chemicals coming into their homes via well water. And also like the families in California, once they found out about the contamination, Dukeville families feared what the water had done or might do to their children.
Three months after the huge spill on the Dan River, the Waterkeeper Alliance tested water from 15 wells in Dukeville and from seepage on the Thomas family's land which sits next to the Buck Steam Plant‘s ponds. Lab reports provided to the AP showed the following:
— Water from the Thomases' kitchen faucet contained chromium at nearly four times the state limit for groundwater and exceeded the state limit for arsenic.
— Samples taken from the wellhead at the Thomas farm and 14 other wells contained some hexavalent chromium, though at amounts considered acceptable by state regulators. Some wells also exceeded state groundwater standards for total chromium, lead, iron and manganese.
— A sample taken from water seeping up in the Thomases' cow pasture contained chromium at nearly 10 times the state groundwater standard, lead at more than six times the standard, manganese at 562 times the standard, iron at 1,086 times the standard and boron at 1.5 times the standard.
According to one expert from Duke University, Avner Vengosh, those lab results left “little doubt that coal ash pollution had spread.”
Not surprisingly, Duke’s tests differed, but Duke did not test for hexavalent chromium, say reports.
Duke can not longer expect people to believe it has the best interests of the environment, wildlife or the public at heart. There are too many spills, too many cases of contamination and too many contradictory reports to conclude otherwise.
Duke Energy has already used up all its free passes in its games of Monopoly and Risk, and the public can’t count on it to clean up its mess. Therefore we demand Duke get its coal ash ponds away from NC Waterways at once.