Kim Brewer’s two daughters were born with serious birth defects and her neighbors have suffered from brain tumors, cancers and respiratory problems. Caroline Armijo has lost countless friends and neighbors to cancer, most recently a ten year-old child.
Both women live near Duke Energy coal ash facilities, Brewer near the Buck steam plant in Rowan County and Armijo near the Belews Creek facility in Forsyth County. Neither Buck nor Belews Creek are high priority cleanup sites in the General Assembly’s coal ash bill, which becomes state law today.
“I don’t believe it’s a coincidence,” Armijo said. “If coal ash is making us sick, then our leaders need to do something about it—now. We have a right to lead healthy lives.”
This is why 40,000 North Carolinians submitted comments to Governor McCrory this morning addressing the coal ash legislation the General Assembly passed this summer. They say that the bill doesn’t go far enough to protect their communities from the hazards of coal ash pollution, and they’re demanding cleanup of all 14 coal ash sites in the state.
Groundwater contamination has been detected at all 14 sites. Matthew Starr, the Upper Neuse Riverkeeper, says Duke Energy has been allowed to violate groundwater standards at least 279 times in the past three years. Starr says that is unacceptable.
“The Neuse River is a drinking water source, as well as a popular fishing and recreation destination,” Starr said. “Arsenic and other hazardous pollutants are poisoning the ground and surface water at levels well above the standard.”
Amy Adams, a former DENR employee and environmental activist for Appalachian Voices, says the Governor is too cozy with his former employer, Duke Energy, and worries that this is why the bill doesn’t address coal ash cleanup for ten coal ash sites across the state.
“Ten communities impacted by coal ash in North Carolina are stuck in limbo, without any assurance that they’ll get a full cleanup,” Adams said. “Governor McCrory should use his authority to protect those communities by demanding cleanup now.”
Governor McCrory's office has not responded to INDY Week's request for comment.