Last week Tom Reeder, the director of DENR’s Division of Water Resources, emphatically told lawmakers that no coal ash deposits have been found to date in Kerr Lake.
“There’s been a lot of anecdotal reporting about ash in Kerr Lake,” Reeder said at an Environmental Review Commission meeting.
He added that the EPA sampled 20 different sites at Kerr Lake and analysis of the sampling did not show the presence of coal ash.
But some of that “anecdotal reporting” Reeder spoke about came from Reeder himself.
On April 17, Reeder said in a T.V. interview with Time Warner Cable News that DENR had found trace amounts of coal ash in Kerr Lake.
The network reported that following the interview, a DENR public information officer sent an email contradicting Reeder’s statements in the interview.
The following Tuesday, Reeder himself backtracked before the Environmental Review Commission.
“People have seen grey material in Kerr Lake, people have seen grey water entering Kerr Lake, things like that,” Reeder told lawmakers. “Everything that has been tested to date that has been taken from Kerr Lake has turned up negative for coal ash.”
Bridget Whelan, the communications director for the North Carolina Conservation Network, said the issue remains a point of confusion.
“DENR either misspoke when they said coal ash was confirmed there or they are deliberating,” Whelan said. “The community up there around Kerr Lake is confused and concerned.”
The lake shares a border with Virginia and that state’s Department of Environmental Quality's response is similarly confusing.
“In the days following coal ash spill, coal ash was observed in the lake’s waters,” said Bill Hayden, a public affairs officer with the Department. “It was only observed and not measured. Testing has been done in the past week or so and there has been nothing to show that there is coal ash in the water.”