Duke Energy begins work to remove large coal ash deposit in Danville

sludge from river bottom
Enlarge Photo
Dan River Basin Association

Coal ash sludge scooped from the Dan River near the Duke Energy spill in Eden.

Digital Content Editor- Triad Business Journal

Duke Energy Corp. has begun to remove a 2,500-ton coal ash deposit in Danville, Va., with high-tech machinery, the News & Record and Fox 8 report.

The machine agitates the river bottom and vacuums up the water and sediment. The coal ash is then filtered out and sent to a lined landfill in Person County, while clean water is returned to the river.

The deposit, a result of the Feb. 2 spill that dumped between 30,000 and 39,000 tons of ash into the Dan River, is near the Schoolfield Dam and close to where Danville draws its drinking water.

It is the largest deposit found outside of where the spill occurred at the Dan River Steam Station in Eden. Nineteen tons were cleared there.

No coal ash containments have been found to date in drinking water downstream from the spill, including in Danville.

While work at the dam is likely to last through June, the News & Record writes that prospects look grim for recovering most of the ash that spilled. The two other known deposits — both in North Carolina — are a combined 60 tons. Officials say monitoring for deposits will continue for years.

Continue reading

Womack: “That’s just the way things are done.”

by Alexandra Viera, Piedmont Earth First!

As an Earth First!er, I never thought I’d agree with anything that Mining and Energy Chairman Jim Womack had to say…until now.  When interviewed by the Associated Press last week about why the Mining and Energy Commission held private talks with energy lobbyists regarding keeping fracking chemicals secret, he replied with “that’s just the way things are done.”

Eight Earth First!ers lock to the doors of NC DENR in 2012 after they release a report downplaying fracking risks and appointing former oil industry reps to the MEC. “We’ve learned that the legislature and regulators will not protect the water we drink and air we breathe. It’s time for the public to take other types of action to stop hydrofracking.”

I have to admit, Jim has a point.  Here in the land of the pines, there are special sessions where “representatives” try to fast track dangerous forms of extraction such as offshore oil drilling.  Regulators take tax-payer funded trips to PA and  into Texas for fracking industry sponsored tours.  NC Legislators travel to take votes on a corporate loyalty oath to ALEC DENR makes deals with Duke Energy to prevent them from being sued by environmental groups to clean up their toxic coal ash pits.  And, the mining and energy commissioners, appointed to create regulation for a dangerous and toxic industry that has shown itself immune to the idea of regulation itself, meet in secret with oil and gas lobbyists.  That’s just the way things are done down here, and that’s exactly the reason Earth First! exists, and that’s the reason we support direct action.  That’s why last summer hundreds of people blocked a fracking chemical shipment leaving Morganton, NC.


Protesters, using 30- foot tripods, block two driveways preventing fracking chemical tankers from leaving Momentive Specialty Chemicals in Morganton, North Carolina.

Let’s be clear, people like Jim Womack and corrupt boards like the MEC are the reason we would rather be arrested at a protest than pretend like we are part of this rigged process.  At least we are not foolish enough to believe that we are part of a system that is already fixed.   The only hope we have to stop fracking, offshore drilling, and coal disasters is if more people wake up and instead of choosing to” change the system from the inside”, or appeal to their  their representatives, they decide to join those who are constantly disenfranchised, put their comfort on the line, and actually fight the system itself.


protesters stand atop tanker truck in Morganton, NC

Ecuador rejects vote on Amazon oil drilling in Yasuni park

Action Alert: Call the EPA Now & Demand They Reopen natural gas investigations in Dimock & Pavillion

May 8th National Call in day to the EPA

Parker County TX, Dimock PA, and Pavillion WY are the towns bearing the brunt of the assault of the oil and gas industry on our communities. All three of them had their water destroyed after fracking occurred in their city limits, and all three had the EPA come in and give them glimmer of hope but then left them out to dry. But they are are fighting back. Can you help them? Please call 888-661-3342 and tell Administrator McCarthy to reopen the investigations.


There has been a national push to force the EPA Administrator McCarthy to reopen the investigations in these communities and we are gaining some traction. Today, May 8th, we are asking folks from around the country to stand with these three communities and demand that Administrator McCarthy do just that. Please call 888-661-3342 and tell Administrator McCarthy to reopen the investigations.


Now- we know it’s kinda awkward to make these calls, but we have a quick and easy script for you:


Hi, My name is _____, and I’m calling to ask EPA Administrator McCarthy to reopen the investigations in Parker County TX, Dimock PA, and Pavillion WY.


I’m saddened that the EPA has chosen to abandon these communities, and not protect them from the Oil and Gas industry. Your own scientists have said that their water was possibly contaminated from Fracking, yet you continue to do nothing.


Please reopen the investigations! These communities need your support!


Feel free to call once, or twice, even three times. Let’s keep those phones ringing off the hook!


In Struggle

Our own scientist have said that their water was possibly contaminated from Fracking, yet you continue to do nothing.


Please reopen the investigations! These communities need your support!



Continue reading

Australia: 7,000 Anti-gas Protesters Are Waiting for a Clash with Police on Land Slated for Exploratory Drilling

 Protester ‘Simmo’ waits for police to arrive. Picture: Jason O'Brien Source: News Corp Australia

An army of up to 7000 anti-gas protesters is preparing for a clash with police on New South Wales’ north coast.

by Geoff Chambers / The Daily Telegraph

The mood of the Bentley Blockade protest camp, situated on private property next to a farm set for exploratory drilling for conventional gas, turned defensive yesterday, as Lock The Gate officials looked at alternative options after Richmond Valley Council evicted them from their campsite.

Simmo, a barefoot protester with a walkie talkie positioned on one of several illegal lookouts erected on public property outside the camp, asked The Daily Telegraph to erase photos of him without a mask.

Asked why he was hiding behind a mask, Simmo said it was part of a long game and he would take it off when police arrived to remove the protesters.

More than 300 campers remained on the Bentley Rd property yesterday, which from today will be considered illegal by council after campers were accused of breaching council regulations by using detergent and bathing in the creek, lighting fires, using gas for cooking, holding pop-up concerts and setting up mini-camps on other properties.


 Musician Luke Vassella from Lismore plays tunes at a morning dawn service. Picture: Jason O'Brien Source: News Corp Australia

The camp was set up last month by Lock The Gate and Gasfield Free Northern Rivers on land owned by farmer David Scarrabelotti with his permission.

The neighbouring property is the farm owned by ­father and son Robert and Peter Graham, who gave Metgasco permission to begin exploratory drilling for conventional gas.

 Anti coal seam gas protesters at Bentley on the eve of possible eviction from their camp site. Picture: Jason O'Brien Source: News Corp Australia

The anti-CSG groups and Mr Scarrabelotti lodged a ­development application with the council to replace a temporary two-month approval for a 200-person “primitive camp” with a new application for 600 people.

The application was opposed by police and RMS and rejected by council general manager John Walker on Wednesday, setting up a showdown between protesters, council and police.

Lock The Gate organiser Ian Gaillard, who set up the camp, expected “7000 people here when the police show up” if council failed to ­re-negotiate the development application.

 Anti CSG protesters at Bentley on the eve of possible eviction from their camp site. Picture: Jason O'Brien Source: News Corp Australia

The protest groups were expected to lodge a revised DA late yesterday.

Richmond Valley Council mayor Ernie Bennett said council had a neutral view on CSG and its main concern was the safety of protesters and public on the 100km/h Bentley Rd.

Victory! Construction halted at Taiwan nuclear plant after protests

“Bomb train” carrying crude oil explodes in Lynchburg, Virginia

Our Power Together: May Day at Duke Energy Shareholder Meeting

Thursday, May 1st, 2014. 9am-12pm (park by 8:45am)
Duke Energy Corporate Office
526 S Church St. Charlotte.

YES, there are buses from the Triangle and Triad. Register HERE to get on
the buses: tinyurl.com/lwbbd9r
And if you would benefit from the financial support, we will gladly help
you cover your mileage from other parts of the state. Contact Emma for
carpool reimbursement: emma.greenbaum (at) sierraclub.org

On February 2, 2014 one of Duke Energy's coal ash dumps burst, emptying
39,000 tons of toxic sludge into the Dan River, coating the riverbed for 70
miles downstream. The public was not notified for over 24 hours. For the
preceding year, Governor McCrory's administration blocked North Carolina
environmentalists from suing the corporation for its coal ash pollution.

For Duke Energy ratepayers, for NC taxpayers, for those of us who live near
NC's 50 toxic coal ash dumps (containing at least 16 billion gallons of
coal combustion waste, enough to cover 38,662 football fields one foot
deep), for families with children, for people of color, for people living
in poverty, for those of us who drink water or breathe air, it's time to
tell Duke Energy to come clean.

Meet at Duke Energy corporate headquarters in Charlotte on May 1, 2014 with
a broad alliance of visionary organizations from across the state. On the
occasion of the 2014 Duke Energy shareholder meeting, celebrate your May
Day with unity. We call for environmental, social, racial, labor and
economic justice; political transparency; clean energy; and a bright future
for all!

McCrory coal ash bill blasted as ‘step backward’

Posted: Apr 17, 2014 on http://www.wncn.com


The office of Gov. Pat McCrory released a draft of his proposed legislation to regulate coal ash in North Carolina Thursday, but a top attorney for the Southern Environmental Law Center said the proposal falls far short of protecting North Carolinians.

Frank Holleman, who is based in Chapel Hill with the SELC, called the bill “a step backward” overall.

McCrory, in a press release Wednesday, praised the legislation as a way to address concerns about the coal ash that has spilled into North Carolina waterways.

“Since taking office in January 2013, my administration has discovered a number of long-standing shortcomings in state law that hamper our ability to adequately protect public health and the environment in addition to dealing with emergencies when they happen,” McCrory said in a statement. “We need to close these loopholes and give our regulators the tools they need to solve this more than 60-year-old coal ash problem.”

McCrory said his plan would call for 19 new positions with the state Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

McCrory did not address specifics of the plan with reporters at an event Wednesday morning, but his office later released a 16-page draft of the proposal. The proposal says the “issue of coal ash has not been adequately addressed in North Carolina for more than six decades.” It also calls on tighter reporting standards for when there are spills and lays out specifics for monitoring the coal ash.



“I know that the public and the General Assembly share our concerns about coal ash, and I ask them to work with me to make sure we tackle this problem head-on to address long-standing problems caused by the ash basins,” McCrory said.

Holleman of the SELC said the proposal was riddled with problems, essentially in that it asks citizens, and the General Assembly, to trust DENR and Duke Energy to take care of the coal ash problem.

“Unfortunately, the governor and DENR have not opted to take a strong approach to cleaning up coal ash and protecting North Carolina’s communities,” Holleman said in a telephone interview.

Asked for a response to Holleman’s comments, DENR spokesman Drew Elliott told WNCN, “Gov. McCrory’s proposal is a bold plan to accelerate the clean-up of these ponds, and it continues this administration’s record of being aggressive on environmental issues where previous leaders have done little or nothing.

“The draft legislation proposes a data-driven, site-specific approach to closing the state’s ash ponds, going further than any federal or state legislation in history.”

Holleman, however, was not as impressed. Holleman spelled out his concerns in a lengthy email to WNCN.

Those concerns included:

  • The proposal does not require Duke to clean up its coal ash pollution or move its ash to safe storage.
  • The proposal asks the legislature and the public to trust DENR and Duke Energy. The proposal leaves it to them to decide what happens with Duke’s coal ash. The public and the legislature have no reason to place this trust in two organizations that are responding to a federal criminal grand jury regarding their coal ash activities.
  • The proposal in large part comes directly from the proposed settlement consent order that was rejected by the public of North Carolina last summer and that even DENR was forced to withdraw from court consideration after public outrage and a criminal grand jury investigation. The proposal contains the settlement’s provisions dealing with both groundwater pollution and illegal leaks.
  • The proposal allows DENR and Duke that Duke can continue to spring leaks from its wastewater treatment coal ash facilities, dumping polluted coal ash lagoon water into rivers and drinking water reservoirs.
  • As to the Riverbend facility [in Gaston County], it does not even require Duke to move its coal ash from unlined old storage sites in addition to the lagoons, something that Duke Energy has already agreed to do.

Copyright 2014 WNCN. All rights reserved.

  • As to the four specifically mentioned sites, it allows Duke and DENR to agree to an undefined alternative instead of coal ash removal to safe, dry storage in a lined facility.

Continue reading

North Dakota Finds Itself Unprepared to Handle the Radioactive Burden of Its Fracking Boom

by Rebecca Leber / Think Progress

AP Photo/Courtesy of the North Dakota Health Department, File

North Dakota recently discovered piles of garbage bags containing radioactive waste dumped by oil drillers in abandoned buildings. Now, the state is trying to catch up to an oil industry that produces an estimated 27 tons of radioactive debris from wells daily. Existing fines have apparently not been enough to deter contractors from dumping oil socks — coiled filters that strain wastewater and accumulate low levels of radiation.

“Before the Bakken oil boom we didn’t have any of these materials being generated,” the state’s Director of Waste Management Scott Radig told the Wall Street Journal. “So it wasn’t really an issue.”

The state is in the process of drafting rules, out in June, that require oil companies to properly store the waste in leak-proof containers. Eventually, they must move these oil socks to certified dumps. However, North Dakota has no facilities to process this level of radioactive waste. According to the Wall Street Journal, the closest facilities are hundreds of miles away in states like Idaho, Colorado, Utah, and Montana.


Even though it is illegal, contractors have taken the occasional shortcut to dump the oil socks in buildings, on the side of the road, or at landfills. And the rate of dumping incidents has been on the rise as drilling activity has increased in the Bakken shale region, according to one North Dakota Department of Health study. Dump operators now even routinely screen garbage for radiation.

If things don’t improve, oil drillers may risk turning parts of the state into EPA Superfund sites, which would mean a long and expensive clean-up.

North Dakota’s oil activity has delivered a string of bad news for the area that disrupts the rosy portrayal of the state’s economic growth. The oil boom has brought along with it more frequent oil and wastewater spills, skyrocketing rent and homelessness, as well as drug addiction and STDs.