This ELEEP Virtual Discussion on July 28, 2016 dealt with the topic of "Regulating Coal: Lessons from the North Carolina Coal Ash Spill."
On February 2, 2014, North Carolina became the site of the second largest coal ash spill in US history when a stormwater pipe under coal ash impoundments at Duke Energy’s retired Dan River plant ruptured. The Dan River was fouled by an estimated 140,000 tons of coal ash and contaminated wastewater, spurring significant public outcry and uncovering questionable practices on the part of the energy utility Duke Energy and the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources. After the spill, the NC General Assembly passed a law to establish a process for cleaning up coal ash throughout NC. However, state and federal enforcement actions dealing with 10 North Carolina sites remain pending. Conservation groups continue to push in court and publicly for cleanup of primitive coal ash storage and pollution at these sites.
Dustin Chicurel-Bayard (Director of Communications) and Cassie Gavin (Director of Government Relations) of the North Carolina Chapter of the Sierra Club joined us to discuss the background related to the coal ash spill in NC, how it has impacted local communities, the broader status of coal ash in the US (particularly from a legislative/regulatory standpoint), and the work that the Sierra Club has been doing on this issue.