Coal Ash Issue

McCrory: Move coal ash ponds away from rivers

Gov. Pat McCrory on Saturday said coal ash ponds for power plants should be moved farther away from rivers and streams in North Carolina, and the ash should be placed in lined facilities.

“The immediate goal is to stop any existing leaks, clean up any ramifications from existing leaks and spills, and third, have a long-term solution and hopefully in most cases move these ponds or put a permanent cap on,” McCrory said, speaking during a break at a meeting of the National Governors Association.

It was his strongest stance yet on what should happen in light of the Feb. 2 spill of 39,000 tons of coal ash from a Duke Energy containment site on the Dan River.

“I know at the Dan River site there’s a potential site already to at least move it away from the river, which could probably most logically be done in a short period of time, and we’re looking at ways we can encourage the utility to do just that,” McCrory said.

He said wasn’t just talking about the spill site.

“I hope in most cases we can move the pond,” so that it isn’t near water, McCrory said. “I’m not an engineer or a scientist but that would be hopefully the best option.”

The governor, a former Duke Energy employee, said long-term protection of the state’s rivers and streams also was needed for coal ash ponds at coal-fired plants that are no longer running.

“Once you shut down a plant, the responsibility doesn’t stop to take care of that piece of property and protect the environment in and around that piece of property,” he said.

Asked whether ponds should have liners to prevent toxic waste from leaching out to surrounding water, McCrory said: “Yeah, I think there should be requirements to have liners in and around, but that’s something for the engineers to determine, not politicians.”