Just 8 days apart, two hazardous spills have threatened North Carolina waterways – a coal ash spill in Eden and a raw sewage spill near Burlington. Both have demonstrated a shocking lack of urgency from NC DENR (Department of Environment and Natural Resources) officials to immediately warn and inform the public. On Sunday (Feb. 2) 50,000 to 82,000 tons of toxic coal ash (heavy metal slurry left over from burning coal) oozed into the Dan River, but the public was not notified until late Monday. A week prior to that, 3.5 million gallons of sewage gushed into the Haw River from a local waste treatment plant, but officials with NC DENR delayed the public notice for nearly four days. This is unacceptable. The public has a right to know immediately from our state officials and from polluters when toxic spills happen in our waterways.
Coal ash ponds are extremely dangerous and not well regulated in North Carolina. Our neighbors in South Carolina have recently taken major steps forward to clean up and handle their highly toxic waste ponds, but the NC industry and regulators have done little to keep North Carolinians safe from coal ash. The bottom line is that it’s time for NC DENR and our state legislators to prioritize our 9 million residents’ safety and not the polluters.
Tell our state officials that the delayed notification of these spills is unacceptable and encourage them to take similar steps to South Carolina by cleaning up our coal ash.