Local News

Lee County residents say no to coal ash

Posted November 17, 2014 10:47 p.m. EST
Updated November 17, 2014 10:52 p.m. EST

— If the comments made during a meeting inside the Lee County Board of Commissioners Room Monday night are any indication, Lee County residents do not want coal ash in their backyards.

“Who invited this idea,” one resident asked. “Why weren’t we notified sooner? And what is the purpose of bringing coal ash to our area?”

“If the coal ash dumping is so desirable, then why aren't the CEOs from Duke Power and their neighbors fighting to have it in their backyards,” another resident said.

Duke Energy presented a plan that involves taking about 3 million tons of coal ash from the 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 plans to install, officials said.

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

Residents said they’re worried about possible soil, air and water contamination. No residents spoke in favor of the plan Monday night.

One resident, Debra Champion, spoke directly to the Duke Energy representatives at the meeting.

“I’m sorry, I’m sure you’re all very nice people, but you are not here for the betterment of my community,” she said.

As the meeting adjourned, many residents chanted 'Shame on you' to Duke Energy officials.

Champion said coal ash, on top of fracking, is too much for Lee County.

“Coal ash and fracking make the most lethal combination when put together,” she said.