Local residents and organizations are calling for answers after the release of testimony from toxicologist Ken Rudo that highlights the way he says Gov. Pat McCrory tried to cover up the dangers involved with drinking well water near Duke Energy's coal ash ponds.
In his testimony, Rudo stated that he was called to McCrory's office in 2015 and challenged by a staff member about an advisory he had helped draft warning residents near Duke's coal ash pits not to drink their water. The do-not-drink advisory was eventually reversed by the Department of Health and Human Services in early 2016 in a move that Rudo called "highly unethical" and "possibly illegal."
Following the release of Rudo's testimony, McCrory called a late-night press conference denying that he was part of any such meeting, accusing Rudo of perjury.
This morning, Creative Loafing
received a statement from Amy Brown, a resident who lives with her children near Duke Energy's Allen Steam Station in Gaston County. Brown explained why she trusts Rudo's testimony.
"Dr. Rudo has been consistent in this nightmare of over a year that Duke Energy's neighbors have been forced to live," Brown said. "So many times we asked, 'Who is protecting us?' while our neighbor Duke Energy continues to deny contaminating our well with their unlined, leaking, toxic coal ash ponds that sit in the groundwater. As our governor ignored our cries for help for over a year, Dr. Rudo was consistent."
We also heard from Brown's neighbor, Debra Baker, who agreed.
"Dr. Rudo wasn't laying the blame on anyone," Baker wrote in an email. "He is a true medical professional that cared for his fellow human beings' safety! Who else makes 200 personal calls to inform us about our water results and to not drink, ingest, or cook with it? I trust Dr. Rudo and no one else!"
Both Brown and Baker are still living on bottled water provided by Duke Energy and have been for well over a year.
In a statement released yesterday, Progress NC Action executive director Gerrick Brenner called on McCrory to prove his claims that he did not participate in the meeting with Rudo by releasing records of his whereabouts on April 2, 2015.
“Gov. McCrory’s latest desperate attempt to cover up Duke Energy’s coal ash pollution is a new low,” Brenner wrote. “If you’re going to accuse a 30-year state employee of lying under oath, you’d better be able to show some evidence — which the governor’s office has failed to do. If Gov. McCrory was not phoning into this meeting, then where was he? What was he doing? We know he was not meeting with any of the hundreds of families across North Carolina who are struggling with contaminated well water near coal ash waste pits. The well water families have been calling for a meeting with the governor to plead their case for last year. Pat McCrory, the former Duke Energy employee, has completely ignored them.”