Letters to the Editor

Matthew Starr: Coal ash ‘notices’ an election-year ruse

Regarding the March 5 Business article “State cites Duke Energy for ash pond leaks”: North Carolina’s Department of Environmental Quality recently issued what it called “notices of violations” for leaks at Duke Energy’s unlined coal ash pits – leaks it has known about for years – and accompanied them with an election-year, self-congratulating news release.

These notices do not clean up coal ash. They only propose an undisclosed “penalty.” DEQ has opposed removal of coal ash from unlined pits at sites across the state, even though that irresponsible storage is the cause of the leaking pollution.

The DEQ news release referred to “treated” wastewater. “Treated” in this context means that the coal ash water sitting in an unlined pit beside the river has time to settle out a little; the coal ash polluted water is not actually “treated.”

The coal ash ponds across our state are polluting our surface and groundwater 24 hours a day seven days a week. So according to DEQ’s own thought process, a new notice of violation should be issued as soon as this one is resolved.

In fact, the only way for Duke to correct the pollution is to remove the ash from unlined pits next to rivers, which DEQ’s notices do not require. This is just another link in the long chain in DEQ protecting polluters not people.

Matthew Starr

Upper Neuse Riverkeeper