Local News

Officials: Lee County was set up regarding coal ash

Posted December 8, 2014 10:23 p.m. EST
Updated December 8, 2014 10:30 p.m. EST

— 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.