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Catawba Riverkeeper Files Motion to Protect Mountain Island Lake from Duke Energy’s Coal Ash Pollution

Catawba Riverkeeper Files Motion to Protect Mountain Island Lake from Duke Energy’s Coal Ash Pollution

Duke appeals Riverbend permit, Catawba Riverkeeper (represented by Southern Environmental Law Center) files to intervene, especially given that CRF is still a plaintiff in two active lawsuits regarding Riverbend

Catawba Riverkeeper Files Motion to Protect Mountain Island Lake from Duke Energy’s Coal Ash Pollution

Riverbend's coal ash on Mountain Island Lake, which is the drinking water reservoir for one million people in Mecklenburg and Gaston Counties

"If this state government is truly open and transparent, there should be no reason not to have present a community representative who has worked diligently on this site and issue." --Riverkeeper Sam Perkins

The Southern Environmental Law Center today filed a motion on behalf of the Catawba Riverkeeper Foundation to intervene in a challenge by Duke Energy that seeks to weaken a pollution discharge permit recently issued by the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality for Duke’s Riverbend coal ash site on Mountain Island Lake, the drinking water supply reservoir for Charlotte, Mecklenburg County, Mount Holly, and Gastonia, N.C. 

“Duke Energy is seeking to weaken an important pollution control permit that is designed to protect the Charlotte area’s drinking water supply reservoir,” said Frank Holleman, senior attorney at the Southern Environmental Law Center. “With the drinking water of almost one million people at risk, citizens must have a seat at the table to ensure our drinking water sources are adequately protected.”

Today’s filing in the state’s Office of Administrative Hearings seeks to prevent Duke Energy and the state from entering another sweetheart deal on coal ash pollution, as they have tried to do repeatedly in recent years.  This appeal deals with the Clean Water Act permit designed to protect Mountain Island Lake on the Catawba River from coal ash pollution flowing out of Duke Energy’s Riverbend facility.  In 2015 in another administrative proceeding, Duke Energy and DEQ purported to settle all groundwater claims in the state – including those at Riverbend – without notice to the public, and convinced an administrative judge to approve the settlement.  In a challenge brought by SELC, that administrative court approval was recently rescinded.  In 2013, DEQ and Duke Energy sought to settle all coal ash pollution claims at Riverbend without requiring Duke Energy to clean up the Riverbend coal ash lagoons.  That settlement was withdrawn after a criminal grand jury issued subpoenas.  Duke Energy was subsequently required to remove the ash from the Riverbend lagoons and pleaded guilty to criminal coal ash pollution at Riverbend.

In this proceeding, SELC is asking that the Catawba Riverkeeper Foundation participate as a full party to Duke Energy’s challenge to its Clean Water Act discharge permit for coal ash lagoons at its retired Riverbend power plant.  The coal ash lagoons are scheduled to be excavated to dry, lined storage by 2019, but will continue to leak streams of contaminated water into Mountain Island Lake until they are removed.  In its appeal, Duke Energy challenges pollution limitations on contamination of water flows into Mountain Island Lake.

“Given the past history of DEQ and Duke Energy trying to enter into sweetheart deals that do not protect Mountain Island Lake, it’s essential that the Riverkeeper be present to speak up for the lake and the thousands of people who depend upon it for drinking water,” said Sam Perkins, the Catawba Riverkeeper.   “Last summer, the DEQ Secretary had a private dinner with Duke Energy executives at the Governor’s mansion, and we want to be sure that no secret deals get implemented in this administrative proceeding.  If this state government is truly open and transparent, there should be no reason not to have present a community representative who has worked diligently on this site and issue.”

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Jan 25, 2017 NC Riverkeeper Report
From the perspectives of 12 NC Riverkeepers, this report discusses how multiple environmental issues pose challenges in the pursuit of clean, plentiful water. Whether you are in North Carolina or downstream in South Carolina, read this report about the state of environmental enforcement.
Dec 13, 2016 Community Foundation of Gaston County grants $5,000 to CRF for Riverkeeper Program
The Community Foundation will fund Catawba Riverkeeper's work in Gaston County.
Dec 12, 2016 A Successful Launch of our Water Education Program at Great Falls Elementary
Catawba Riverkeeper Foundation in partnership with 4-H Clemson Cooperative Extension successfully completed our pilot Education Outreach Program with 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade students from Great Falls Elementary.
Sep 27, 2016 Lake Wateree Fall Cleanup a Sweeping Success
86 volunteers collected 5,490 pounds of trash from Lake Wateree
Jun 13, 2016 Dozens of Youth Reached in Water Education Outreach Program Pilot Lessons
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Click here to fill out a pollution report or to report water pollution to Catawba Riverkeeper by phone, call 1-888-679-9494 or 704-679-9494.  In addition, to informing your Riverkeeper, you should also report spills or contamination to federal, state and local environmental officials.

To report South Carolina water pollution call 1-888-481-0125.

To report North Carolina spills or fish kills, call your local regional Department of Environment & Natural Resources office during normal business hours (704-663-1699 for most Catawba basin areas or (828) 296-4500 for Burke, Caldwell, McDowell and other mountain counties) or 800-858-0368 after hours.  (For more information on NC spill reporting, click here)


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Fish Advisories

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Fish consumption advisories have been issued throughout the Catawba-Wateree River basin.  Many of these advisories are the result of testing initiated by Catawba Riverkeeper and confirmed by state and local officials.  For a chart identifying fish types with the applicable advisories for the Charlotte area, click here.   For more information about the fish advisories, click here.

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