This piece is a follow-up on clean water issues discussed in August 2017.
DURHAM – Clean water activists are working to address lingering problems from decades of improper coal ash disposal.
Clean Water of North Carolina is one organization working to address the mounting problems from the use of coal ash by Duke Energy. The Coal Ash Management Act, passed in 2014, requires Duke Energy to build better disposal sites for future coal ash disposal. Coal ash is the natural by-product of electricity production, and long-term surface disposal throughout the state resulted in spills, such as the massive Dan River spill in February 2014, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
“Besides hexavalent chromium, also in coal ash is arsenic and vanadium and other contaminants,” said Erica Faircloth, Water and Energy Justice Organizer for Clean Water for North Carolina.
In 2017, the number of clean water issues that have cropped up has risen. While coal ash remains an important issue, GenX and surface water runoff also take the attention of activists like Faircloth.
“Where the [Atlantic Coast] pipeline [for natural gas harvesting] is going will be through a ton of wetlands,” Faircloth said. “When you damage wetlands, really you damage nature’s free way of filtering out your water. Why would we damage something that does something very important for us for free?”
While water activists like Faircloth are working on all of these issues, coal ash maintains its position at the front of the line. In early October, the Southern Environmental Law Center sent notice to Duke Energy on behalf of other organizations a notice of intent to sue for violations of the Clean Water Act related to coal ash dumping in Stokes County, North Carolina.
“These lined ponds [required by the CAMA of 2014] are really just a temporary fix,” Faircloth explained. She believes that more will need to be done in the future to address this issue.
I'm a recovering journalist now living a Renaissance life working as a writer & political strategist. I also am the mom to 2 children, one of whom has autonomic dysfunction & Hypermobility Spectrum Disorder, I write about politics and healthcare in North Carolina.