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Officials: Lee County was set up regarding coal ash

Posted December 8, 2014

— Time has not changed Lee County’s opinion on coal ash.

Residents gathered in November to voice their displeasure.

On Monday, County Manager John Crumpton said Lee County was set up.

“We were made the final resting place for coal ash without us knowing,” he said.

Crumpton added that laws passed by state legislators cleared the way for Duke Energy’s coal ash plan.

“Not much we can do,” he said.

The plan involves taking about 3 million tons of coal ash from Duke Energy’s Riverbend Steam Station in Mount Holly and L.V. Sutton Steam Electric Plant in Wilmington and dumping them in open-pit clay mines in Sanford and Moncure as "engineered structural fill." The mines, which have been used by brick manufacturers, have layers of impervious clay that add environmental protections to the synthetic liner Duke Energy plans to install.

Filling the clay mines with ash will help reclaim previously unusable land and will allow faster action than trying to site a new landfill, Duke Energy officials said, adding that proximity to rail lines will allow the company to minimize the use to trucks to move the ash.

“Let’s call it what it is, a toxic waste landfill,” Keely Wood said.

The coal ash debate reached a nationwide audience Sunday after 60 Minutes aired its interviews with Duke Energy CEO Lynn J. Good and Gov. Pat McCrory.

During a stop in Greensboro on Monday, McCrory weighed in on the coal ash debate.

“What we need to do is take the politics out of it and allow the scientists and engineers to determine how to best move coal ash as opposed to the politicians,” he said. “I do agree that it’s the scientists and engineers that need to be, because just moving it, there are environmental issues with regard to both staying where it is and moving it and instead of politicians making that decision, we ought to let the scientists and engineers do just that."

Residents want county leaders to go to court to stop Duke Energy's coal ash plans for Lee County.

“I know it is a David and Goliath thing, but remember, David did win,” said Debbie Hall.

Commissioners promised to do what they can to fight Duke Energy, but also told residents to share their anger with state legislators.


This story is closed for comments.

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  • Esther Lumsdon Dec 10, 2014
    user avatar

    There are different types/grades of coal ash. The stuff that can be used in road beds and concrete has been - the remainder is the stuff with more of the heavy metals in it.

    These are NEW coal ash pits, not existing ones. The cleanup consists of moving the more difficult coal ash to a new location.

  • Kaitlyn Legare Dec 10, 2014
    user avatar

    "The coal came out of the ground. All you did was burn it."

    LOL that coal that "came out of the ground" contains arsenic, lead, cadmium and many other highly toxic metals, in high concentrations. Don't confuse "natural" with "safe."

  • Kim Schrock Dec 9, 2014
    user avatar

    The coal came out of the ground. All you did was burn it. There are not any additives just add the ash. Stick the ash back in the ground. That county needs to worry about their alien problem and their stores not charging them sales tax on products. Collect your proper sales taxes and then maybe someone will listen to your arguement.

  • didisaythat Dec 9, 2014

    So if no one wants this stored in their county, where does it go? You can blame whoever you want for the problem and you will have to go back many years, or you can blame McCrory, but the issue is still there.

  • Kaitlyn Legare Dec 9, 2014
    user avatar

    View quoted thread

    100 ppm is way above the MCL set for heavy metals found in coal ash run-off, including arsenic, manganese, selenium and others. The metals also bioaccumulate in animals such as sport fish, as well as your own body, so even low level exposures are unsafe with long term exposure.

    Are these landfill sites guaranteed never to leak? If not, I'm not sure that putting them right in the Cape Fear River basin is such a smart idea, where towns like Lillington and others downstream get their drinking water.

  • jimcricket15 Dec 9, 2014

    Let’s call it what it is, a toxic waste landfill,” Keely Wood said."

    All landfills are toxic waste sites. Something has to be done with this stuff after 100 years of dems ignoring it. Don't blame you for not wanting it. No one wants it. Maybe we can transport it to Washington DC. That entire city is toxic. They might not notice.

  • Harvo Dec 9, 2014

    "But now after all these year of Dumping we have a Republican Governor who is getting the Blame. Isn't that Amazing."

    Your Republican Governor was the lawyer at Duke Energy for 28 years before these decisions and empty words came out.

    so disingenuous, so dishonest

  • miseem Dec 9, 2014

    View quoted thread

    So you are saying that this is not a toxic waste landfill? I don't see Keely Wood claiming this is on par with the Love Canal, but Save EnergyMan admits that the substances in the coal ash can present a pollution problem. In other words, some of the waste is toxic in concentrations that could occur if not properly disposed of. What I'm reading from this article is that the residents of Lee County feel they were blindsided and kept out of any decision on this landfill. And while this may or may not be the best disposal option of coal ash that cannot be recycled, I'm not sure if Duke Power or even the state DENR as it is currently composed is the right group to determine the long term safety of this disposal method and site. So while the danger can be overplayed, it can just as easily be underplayed. I would take some in depth independent documentation for me to rely on well water near this disposal site.

  • recontwice Dec 9, 2014

    View quoted thread

    If mc crory listens to an engineer or scientist you can be assured they are on dooks payroll just like he is!!

  • greg11 Dec 9, 2014

    Its amazing to me the federal gov. spends so much time on global warming, yet Duke is polluting our state right now, and basically nothing is done. Fracking and now coal ash, Lee county will now be the pollution capital of NC.
    Local and state gov. are to blame for allowing it to happen. Ask Mike Stone what happens when you go against the will of the people. You get voted out.