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Final Risk Classifications. Maybe.

(Charlotte, N.C.) Today, the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) released its final proposed risk classifications for the state's coal ash ponds. In addition to the four sites classified as 'HIGH RISK' under the 2014 Coal Ash Management Act (CAMA), the state classified the remaining 10 sites as 'INTERMEDIATE RISK,' which requires that they be cleaned up (excavated) by 2024. However, DEQ also requested that the General Assembly re-evaluate classifications in 18 months. Sites around Charlotte include Allen (Lake Wylie on the Catawba River), Marshall (Lake Norman on the Catawba River), Buck (Yadkin River) and Cliffside (recently renamed Rogers Energy Complex; Broad River).

"The listing of all sites as 'HIGH' or 'INTERMEDIATE RISK' acknowledges that these sites are major threats to citizens and the environment," said Catawba Riverkeeper Sam Perkins. "But even in the face of overwhelming public and scientific input demonstrating the needs for cleanups, DEQ has the audacity to essentially ask for a change to CAMA, which had required that plans for these sites be finalized by today so that we can begin to move on from this issue. The fact that Duke Energy has allowed these ponds to fall into such disrepair justifies the need to clean up these sites as opposed to leaving them for Duke to have to manage, which it has demonstrated it cannot sufficiently do."

"This cannot continue to drag on. This issue is directly affecting hundreds of people around the state who have been living on bottled water for more than a year. Furthermore, leaving these ponds in place continues to threaten the drinking water supplies of millions. Engineers and PhDs have reviewed studies of the sites and determined the sites have too many problems to be left in place. Why can't we get a simple commitment to a cleanup?"

In the draft proposed risk classifications, Allen (Lake Wylie), Marshall (Lake Norman) and three other sites had been classified as 'LOW-TO-INTERMEDIATE RISK,' meaning DEQ wanted additional information and public input before the final classifications. After public comments and hearings, today's final classifications are an improvement over the draft classifications, but they are in all practicality the same as DEQ continues to ask for more time despite clear scientific analysis necessitating cleanup.

"The state has purportedly wanted to provide clarity and certainty on this issue, but today's classifications contain such an asterisk that it provides anything but that. As we have seen throughout South Carolina, we know that excavation is a viable, proven solution to cleaning up water contamination and mitigating threats from these old, unlined sites propped high on the banks of our drinking water reservoirs."

Duke Energy has submitted to DEQ a study on the feasibility of supplying permanent alternative water to citizens with contaminated well water near coal ash ponds. That study was not provided with the press release.

The Catawba Riverkeeper Foundation remains active in state court with Duke Energy for its coal ash at Allen and Marshall. CRF is represented by Southern Environmental Law Center.

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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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