Target: Donald R. van der Vaart, Secretary of North Carolina’s Department of Environmental Quality
Goal: Require coal company to immediately clean up all its dumped coal ash in North Carolina and impose harsh penalties for its irresponsible waste management.
Duke Energy, who maintains a host of coal plants in North Carolina, has been dumping vast amounts of coal ash at poorly secured sites for years. This has resulted in contaminated drinking water for many of the state’s residents. Though the state’s Department of Environmental Quality is moving forward with cleanup demands for Duke Energy, these demands have not been cemented and are not severe enough in-and-of-themselves. They do not, for example, require immediate cleanup plans for each site. Duke Energy must be forced to immediately clean up all its coal ash dumping sites and it must also be penalized further for its negligent behavior.
Dumping mountains of coal ash in various pits and ponds throughout the state has caused cancerous chemicals, such as hexavalent chromium and vanadium, to leak into surrounding groundwater. As a result, hundreds of families received “Do not Drink” notices over the last year. However, at the behest of Duke officials, the DEQ has rescinded those notices.
Now it has also become clear that the DEQ is reclassifying many of Duke Energy’s coal ash dumping sites as “intermediate” risks instead of “high.” This all comes after meetings between Governor Pat McCrory and high-ranking Duke Energy officials at the governor’s mansion. A deposition from State Epidemiologist Megan Davies, who was summoned by Southern Environmental Law Center attorney Frank Holleman, includes statements which contradict the DEQ’s increasingly soft position on the issue while also detailing the aforementioned lobbying efforts carried out by Duke Energy. This all points to a corporate-government conspiracy to circumvent scientific evidence in such a way that will knowingly harm the citizens of North Carolina.
The DEQ’s about-face on groundwater contamination caused by Duke Energy’s coal ash dumping is completely unacceptable. They must heed the warnings of the scientific community by demanding that Duke Energy immediately cleanup all of its dumping sites. They must also bring fines and any other penalties within their legal right against Duke Energy for their negligent behavior.
Sign the petition below to urge Secretary van der Vaart to demand immediate cleanup efforts and to impose harsh penalties on Duke Energy.
Dear Secretary van der Vaart,
Duke Energy’s negligent coal ash dumping procedures have put hundreds of North Carolina residents at risk. Cancerous chemicals such as hexavalent chromium and vanadium have leaked into the groundwater supplies which provide drinking water for many. Allowing these contaminants to continue seeping into groundwater would knowingly put residents of your state at severe risk.
It is not enough to demand that Duke Energy immediately cleanup a few of its sites, leaving others to continue leaking hexavalent chromium and vanadium into surrounding groundwater for upwards of five more years. It is also not enough to simply demand immediate cleanup of all the sites. Though this would be a positive step, harsh penalties should accompany those demands.
Duke Energy has been careless in its actions, proving that it’s more concerned with profits than the health of North Carolina residents. The DEQ cannot bow down to these demands simply due to political pressures funneling down from the Governor’s office. It is the duty of public officials such as yourself and Governor McCrory to protect residents of your state. You do not work for Duke Energy: you work for the people of North Carolina.
I urge you to demand immediate cleanup efforts from Duke Energy at all of its dumping sites and to impose harsh penalties upon them for their negligent behavior.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Mel Nathanson