Comment on Coal Ash Classifications!

Classifications will decide state mandates for closures. Comments can be written, emailed or made at public hearings in March.

This is a critical time for the coal ash issue, and we need your voice!


Allen Coal AshOf 14 coal ash sites in North Carolina, the Catawba River has three sites in only a 29-mile span of the river. Those sites represent 40% of the state's coal ash.

CRF, the Southern Environmental Law Center and other groups have been in court with Duke Energy since 2013. While Riverbend (Mountain Island Lake) is being cleaned up, the state has not decided what to require of Allen (Lake Wylie) and Marshall (Lake Norman). These sites are currently classified as 'low to intermediate,' meaning the state is still unsure how to categorize them after evaluating the gaps in Duke's work. Sites classified as 'low' can be left in place, while 'intermediate' sites must be cleaned up. The classifications that are the subject of public comment will determine whether the coal ash must be cleaned up or can be left in place.

Write and submit comments! Mail them if you can, but you can also email and come speak at the public hearing. Use the important points below, include anecdotes, and of course let us know if we can be of help! You can email sam@catawbariverkeeper.org.

HOW TO SUBMIT COMMENTS (BY SITE)

Allen (Lake Wylie)

Email: allencomments@ncdenr.gov
Mail: N.C. DEQ, Attn: Ed Mussler, 1646 Mail Service Center, Raleigh, NC 27699-1646
Public Hearing: 6 p.m. March 22, 2016 at the Gaston College's Dallas campus in the Myers Center Multipurpose Auditorium, 201 Highway U.S. 321 South, Dallas, N.C. 28034
Important Points for Allen Comments:

  • No coal ash site in North Carolina has had as many neighbors affected and told their water is unsafe to drink as Allen.
  • Allen’s unlined, leaking coal ash site is 60 years old.
  • Over 114,000 people rely on drinking water intakes immediately downstream.
  • Allen’s dams have failed before.
  • Upper Lake Wylie on the Catawba River has significant flooding issues. Yet, Allen, with coal ash stacked more than 75 feet high on the banks of the river, has almost one mile of coal ash perimeter exposed to this flood-prone river. Flooding will only be exacerbated by ongoing upstream development and stormwater impacts.
  • The coal ash is not just connected to the groundwater – it lies in the groundwater.
  • Over the years, Allen’s coal ash pits have sprawled such that they now surrounds a densely populated neighborhood on drinking water wells. The coal ash has even been built over streams and a cove of Lake Wylie.
  • Both Duke’s own monitoring wells and the wells of neighbors have metals concentrations that exceed regulatory and health-based standards.
  • Coal ash in South Carolina is being cleaned up, and it is not even causing their rates to increase. Why can't we have the same?
  • Excavation is the only way to prevent groundwater contamination and structure failure.
  • Allen needs and warrants an 'intermediate' or 'high' risk classification to secure excavation and to permanently remove this threat.

 

Marshall (Lake Norman)

Email: marshallcomments@ncdenr.gov
Mail: N.C. DEQ, Attn: Debra Watts, 1636 Mail Service Center, Raleigh, NC 27699-1611
Public Hearing: 6 p.m. March 29, 2016 at Catawba Valley Community College Auditorium, 2550 US-70, Hickory, NC 28602
Important Points for Marshall Comments:

  • Marshall has the most acreage of any coal ash site in the state.
  • Marshall’s unlined, leaking coal ash site is almost 60 years old.
  • More than 1 million people rely on drinking water intakes downstream.
  • Families living near the unlined coal ash ponds at Marshall have been told not to drink the water because of contamination. Even Duke Energy employees were advised not to drink water at the plant.
  • Both Duke’s own monitoring wells and the wells of neighbors have metals concentrations that exceed regulatory and health-based standards.
  • Most of Lake Norman's 520 miles of shoreline are lined with homes.
  • Lake Norman is critical to the regional economy, providing a significant portion of property tax base for surrounding counties. Countless visitors fuel the regional economy, too.
  • Coal ash in South Carolina is being cleaned up, and it is not even causing their rates to increase. Why can't we have the same?
  • Excavation is the only way to prevent groundwater contamination and structure failure.
  • Marshall needs and warrants an 'intermediate' or 'high' risk classification to secure excavation and to permanently remove this threat.


The N.C. Department of Environmental Quality has emphasized the weight it will give public comments. There is no better example of the power of public comment than the 5,000 comments received in 2013 rejecting the sweetheart, do-nothing settlement proposed by Duke and DEQ for violations at Riverbend and Asheville; the settlement was withdrawn!

For more information on DEQ's classifications, click here.

We also need comments on a site (Rogers Energy Complex, aka Cliffside) from a neighboring basin (Broad River). Our colleagues at MountainTrue have a website where you can participate by commenting; click here.

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News
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
May 18, 2016 DEQ RELEASES COAL ASH CLASSIFICATIONS, INITIALLY CALLS FOR CLEANUPS STATEWIDE
HOWEVER, ASKS FOR GENERAL ASSEMBLY TO RE-EVALUATE CLASSIFICATIONS IN 18 MONTHS
May 03, 2016 RIVERSWEEP VOLUNTEERS REMOVE 7,020 POUNDS OF TRASH FROM LAKE WATEREE
On Saturday, April 16th 68 volunteers removed more than 3.5 tons of trash from the shores of Lake Wateree.
Apr 18, 2016 Catawba Riverkeeper Submits Coal Ash Risk Classification Comments for Allen (Lake Wylie) and Marshall (Lake Norman)
DEQ risk classifications will determine whether or not sites have to be cleaned up
More news…
Report Pollution in the Catawba River

Help protect your River! 

Tell your Riverkeeper if you see:

  • Sewage Overflows
  • Failure to control sediment from construction sites
  • Illegal clearing of buffer areas
  • Fish kills 
  • Unpermitted discharges
  • Other issues that concern you

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)

Alliances

The Catawba Riverkeeper Foundation is a proud member of EarthShare North Carolina, the North Carolina Conservation Network, River Network and the Waterkeeper Alliance.  It also in in an alliance with Clean Air Carolina to address issues, such as sprawl, that cause air and water problems.

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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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