fter two years, North Carolinians now know the legal distinction between a mine and a landfill. That makes all the difference to residents of Chatham and Lee counties, where millions of tons of coal ash from Duke Energy are being stored in both abandoned mines and new, gigantic holes in the ground.
Top aides to be questioned about coal ash well water warnings
Ken Rudo made the point that he was under oath when he gave his depositions, and the Governor's staffers who criticized him and called him a liar were not under oath at their press conference. Well, now they soon will be...."Top aides in the McCrory administration will have to testify under oath about a 2015 meeting on how to word do-not-drink warnings to well owners who live near Duke Energy coal ash ponds.The Southern Environmental Law Center has served notices of depositions on Gov. Pat McCrory’s chief of staff, Thomas Stith, and his communications director, Josh Ellis. Discussions are underway with state health department attorneys to set a deposition date for that agency’s communications director, Kendra Gerlach, according to SELC spokeswoman Kathleen Sullivan."
Scientists vs. McCrory administration
The state epidemiologist, Dr. Megan Davies, resigned from her position in protest after agency leaders attacked the state toxicologist’s testimony.
You can hear the powerful reason she stepped down here:
House minority leader calls for SBI probe of coal ash do-not-drink notices
Watch this video
Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League
www.BREDL.org 4617 Pearl Rd Raleigh NC 27610
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 5, 2016
Statement Regarding Elevated Hexavalent Chromium in Private Wells
This week a partial deposition of the state toxicologist for North Carolina was released. It described in detail Dr. Ken Rudo’s alarm at the unethical actions to suppress health-based information regarding the “do not drink” letters sent to communities near Duke Energy coal ash impoundments that were taken by political appointees at the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), and the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). Following media reports of the deposition, Governor Pat McCrory has accused Dr. Rudo of dishonesty concerning his testimony about a meeting between Rudo, McCrory’s Communications Director Josh Ellis and other DHHS staff. While we cannot comment on that meeting, records show that surrogates for Governor McCrory brought pressure to bear on our state’s public health experts concerning hexavalent chromium.
In February 2016, Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League submitted a public records request to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) regarding their analysis of the health risks from hexavalent chromium in private drinking water wells. The request was in response to the disinformation being shared about the health risks of hexavalent chromium in Lee County. This disinformation was also being shared with other communities, with local officials, legislators and the media.
After reviewing hundreds of emails several things are clear:
· Although the Administration has tried to marginalize Dr. Rudo, health risk assessors, toxicologists and epidemiologists from both the Division of Waste Management (DWM) and DHHS reviewed hexavalent chromium and established the health risk level at 0.07 ug/l (ppb). In fact, the DWM originally came up with the recommendation. Division directors and senior staff agreed that this level was appropriate.
· DWM and DHHS arrived at the level using the newest, most accurate information on the health risks of hexavalent chromium, the methods approved by the US EPA, the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), and North Carolina law. DHHS staff reached out to ATSDR, who agreed with the studies and methods used by DWM and DHHS risk assessors.
· Dr. Rudo along with other DHHS staff strongly objected to changing the language of the letters sent to private well users concerning the health risks of drinking their water. A March 2015 email from Dr. Ken Rudo to Dr. Mina Sheehee states, “I cannot from an ethical and moral standpoint put my name on a form with this absolutely untrue human health statement, insofar as it pertains to chromium…” Another email from March 2015 shows that Sandy Mort, a health assessor on staff at the time with DHHS had similar concerns: “I too am not comfortable from a toxicological, health protective & transparency standpoint with the "MCL" statement added to the bottom of the CAMA groundwater data HRE form, specifically as it pertains to hexavalent chromium. I do not believe that it provides the well-user with the most appropriate information as it pertains to their potential exposure and health. I do not want to have my name included on the form as a reviewer or contact resource since this would imply I agreed with, or was comfortable with, the statement.”
· There are numerous emails from DHHS management complimenting and congratulating DHHS staff for their professionalism and knowledge on this issue.
What is not clear is why Governor McCrory chose to insert himself in this issue. Whether it was done personally or through his appointees and staff; it is highly inappropriate and raises questions that must be answered.
Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League has requested additional records concerning this issue, which have started coming in. For copies of emails or interview requests please contact Therese Vick at firstname.lastname@example.org or (919) 345-3673.
Coal Ash Pond Drainage Blamed For Arsenic In Mt. Island Lake | WFAE
RALEIGH, N.C. — A state judge on Monday questioned why environmental regulators granted permits for Duke Energy to dump coal ash from its power plants into open-pit clay mines in Chatham and Lee counties.
The state Department of Environmental Quality in June approved the sites to accept coal ash as "engineered structural fill." Duke started moving ash to the Brickhaven mine near Moncure in October and is expected to start dumping ash at the Colon site near Sanford next year.
Coal ash is the material left after coal is burned for fuel. While the bulk of it is inert, it does contain heavy metals and other toxins, including arsenic, chromium, selenium and mercury, that can harm fish, wildlife and people.
After a ruptured stormwater line under an ash pit in Eden dumped tons of sludge into the Dan River last year, lawmakers ordered Duke to close all of its ash pits statewide by 2029 and created a state commission to oversee the process.
"This is just one step of many over many years that will be taken to take care of the entire problem," Edward Mussler, solid waste permitting supervisor of DEQ's Division of Waste Management, said of burying ash in the clay mines.
Chatham Citizens Against Coal Ash Dump and Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League challenged the legality of the state permits, arguing that the clay mines are more akin to solid waste landfills than mine reclamation projects and should meet the stiffer design, construction and operational regulations of a landfill.
"It will affect the community with their wells and the property values," Sanford resident Keely Puricz said Monday. "Who wants to be living next to a five-story toxic dump? That’s what it is. Let’s call it what it is. It is a dump."
"We know that the people living near the site have seen these clouds of coal ash. When they dump it, there’s coal ash in the air," Moncure resident Judy Hogan said.
Administrative Law Judge Melissa Owens Lassiter said she needs more information on why the state granted permission for ash to be put in the mines as a "beneficial use," saying she wants to know what that benefit is expected to be.
DEQ officials said the ash will fill the mines, leveling the ground so it could be developed later. Officials also disputed environmentalists' claims that the ash would pollute the water and air nearby.
"It would provide a nice, open space. It is designed where somebody could build something on top of it," Mussler said.
The groups say that nothing can be built on top of the mines because of the need for lines to contain the ash and because of the grade of the sites above the surrounding land.
The hearing is expected to continue Tuesday, and there is no timetable for Lassister to issue a ruling in the case.
MONCURE, N.C. — Duke Energy has started the process of dumping 12 million tons of coal ash into a former clay mine in Chatham County, much to the chagrin of nearby residents.
State lawmakers last year ordered the Charlotte-based utility to close all of the ash ponds at its coal-fired power plants across North Carolina by 2029. The company decided to excavate the toxin-laced ash from several of the basins and dump it in mines in Moncure and Sanford.
"We know it's wrong. It's a way of killing a community," Judy Hogan, who heads Chatham Citizens Against Coal Ash, said Wednesday. "They say it’s all fine, it’s not going to hurt us. They even talk about economic development. But we know better."
Ash is the residue left after coal is burned for energy. While much of it is inert, it contains heavy metals such as mercury and arsenic. Duke has kept the ash in unlined pits near its plants for decades, but a spill last year into the Dan River from ponds at a plant near Eden prompted the cleanup order and the creation of a state commission to oversee the process.
Duke spokesman Jeff Brooks said the Brickhaven mine in Moncure has been outfitted with multiple layers of natural and synthetic barriers to protect ground and surface water. Numerous monitoring wells are around the site to measure groundwater quality, he said.
That doesn't reassure longtime resident Helen Mason, who lives across the road from Brickhaven.
"I worry about my grandchildren and my great-grandchildren," said Mason, 89. "I’d rather it not come, but like I’m telling you, there’s not much we can do about it."
“We should know fairly quickly whether we have a problem being created," Commissioner Mike Cross said.
Cross said he's confident Duke is using the best technology available to seal the ash in the mine, and he noted about half of what will be dumped there will come from ash ponds at the nearby Cape Fear Plant.
"I have concerns. However, I think it’s better than having it where we have it now," he said. "If we have to do this, then I think this is the logical way to do it."
Brooks said a few trucks are delivering ash daily from the Riverbend Steam Station in Mount Holly, but that will increase to 20 to 40 trucks a day in a few weeks when ash will also be brought in from the L.V. Sutton Steam Electric Plant in Wilmington. Like the mine, the trucks are lined to prevent the ash from spreading, and GPS monitors ensure the vehicles stay on a pre-set route.
Eventually, he said, a rail spur to the mine will allow the ash to be brought in by train.
Local opponents aren't giving up the fight to stop the ash transfer to Brickhaven – or to a clay mine in neighboring Lee County that is expected to open in 2017. A lawsuit alleges that state regulators didn't properly issue permits to use the Moncure site as a dump.
"We don’t trust Duke, period," Hogan said.
This article is sourced from WRAL. View the article and the video here
SANFORD — Local and state officials have advised residents not to drink or cook with water from four wells in the area of Color Road after finding elevated levels of hexavalent chromium, a carcinogen associated with respiratory irritation, kidney damage, liver damage and other health effects. "We found elevated levels in a couple of the tests," Lee County Manager John Crumpton told The Herald Wednesday. "The folks have been advised not to drink their water. We'll have to look into it a little bit further and have the state do a little more research, but right now, the state's recommending [residents] put some type of filter on it."
Gladys and Michael Reaves, of the 300 block of Birchard Road, had the highest level of hexavalent chromium at 3.92 micrograms per liter, or 56 times the allowable limit of 0.07 micrograms of hexavalent chromium per liter, according to the N.C. State Laboratory of Public Health. A microgram is one millionth of a gram.
"They told us not to drink the water," Gladys said. "They said all we could do was bathe in it and wash clothes in it. ... I'm really concerned because of my husband, what he's going through now. He had cancer, and he's been through [chemotherapy] twice."
According to the U.S. Occupational Safety & Health Administration, hexavalent chromium is known to cause cancer.
"My husband was diagnosed last year," Gladys said. "In the meantime, we didn't know anything about the water. His mom and dad died from cancer, and they lived out here, too."
Crumpton said any discussion of what caused the elevated hexavalent chromium levels would be purely speculative.
"When [the Lee County Board of Commissioners} meets on Dec. 7, I'm going to discuss it with the board," Crumpton said. "And I think we'll probably ask the state to come down and do an in-depth investigation, talk with these folks about what's been causing it. We're not experts in that field. The state is. That's why they have the [N.C. Division of Environmental Quality] and in it, a Division of Water Quality."
Crumpton said local health officials tested 14 wells around Colon Road on Nov. 12 as part of baseline testing in preparation for receipt of up to 8 million tons of coal ash Duke Energy plans to store in the area starting in 2017.
The county still is waiting for the results from six of the 14 test, but in addition to Reaves's well, three others were found to contain more than 0.07 micrograms per liter of hexavalent chromium.
A well on Hawkinberry Lane contained 0.42 micrograms per liter, a well on Old Colon Road contained 0.54 micrograms per liter and a well in the 100 block of Post Offic Road contained 0.08 micrograms per liter, just over the allowable limit.
"Obviously it's a public health issue," Crumpton said of the contamination. "And the county and the state have responsibilities when it comes to this. We're reviewing, figuring out what we need to do to help these people."
The Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League, Chatham Citizens Against Coal Ash Dump and EnvironmentaLEE filed a petition July 6 for a contested case hearing in the North Carolina Office of Administrative Hearings.
The petition challenges the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources' approval of permits and permit modifications for two coal ash reuse projects in Lee and Chatham counties.
The state's part is the lead role, or at least it should be. Our government leader and environmental officials shouldn't let the fears fester unnecessarily. They should step up efforts with public meetings and clear documentation to keep residents informed and as safe as possible.
Extensive studies have been carried out on fly ash disposal, management and re-use in South Africa. This research has shown that the huge dumps of waste fly ash at power stations can be turned into value-added products. This has the twin benefits of creating new and useful products while also reducing its harmful environmental effects. Read more...
Ever since Duke Energy first foisted its coal ash storage plan on Lee and Chatham counties, its repeated assurances of environmental responsibility have rung hollow.
And now, before an ounce of ash has arrived here, Duke’s affiliates already have racked up two infractions for activities at the Chatham County site
... The focus of the investigation is on DENR's relationship with the nation's largest public utility, Duke Energy. Since the spill, environmental and watchdog groups have questioned Duke Energy's influence on DENR's regulatory actions. Read more...
N.C. environmental regulators issued permits Friday to let Duke Energy use coal ash as structural fill at former clay mines in Lee and Chatham counties.
The N.C. Depatment of Environment and Natural Resources cleared Green Meadow LLC and its parent company, Charah Inc., to use coal ash from Duke as structural fill at the Colon Mind in Lee County and the Brickhaven Mine in Chatham County.
"When I come out here my eyes begin to water," he told the Christian Broadcasting Network reporter. "I can taste foul things, and I see dust that is coming from the dump."
Markish told the reporter he had cancer. So did his wife. He also lost four or five dogs to mouth cancer.
The dump Markish refers to is a site owned by Matt Canestrale Contracting, where coal ash, or "fly ash," is stored. Coal ash is the fine powdery material that's left over after coal ash gets burned at power plants. For years, Markish and other LaBelle residents have said the dump has made them sick. Read more...
Please sign the petition to keep toxic coal ash out of our communities.
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Please make checks out to
Chatham Citizens Against Coal Ash Dump (or CCACAD)
PO Box 253
Moncure, NC 27559-253
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Groups file legal challenge to Duke Energy's coal ash dumping plans... Read the press release.
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