Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Coal ash hearings: Last chance to sign up as a speaker

Posted By on Wed, Sep 8, 2010 at 1:44 PM

Hopefully you've noticed our cover story about Charlotte's big coal ash problem this week. Here's a snippet:

Coal ash, most simply, is what remains after coal is burned to generate electricity; like burning wood in a fireplace, there's a little something left over after coal is incinerated. But because there are many sources of coal, and because each coal plant has different technologies in place to manage the waste, it's difficult to say definitively what any given pile of coal ash contains. In general, it's understood that coal ash is a mix of a variety of heavy metals, including, but not limited to, arsenic, mercury, lead, chromium , barium, selenium and cadmium — all of which are recognized by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as hazardous heavy metals individually. "The thing about coal ash," says Donna Lisenby, an activist with the Waterkeeper Alliance and Appalachian Voices, "is it's a toxic soup of all of them."

There is no doubt regulating coal ash is one of the major issues facing our nation today, but it's also a massive issue for Charlotte — and not only because Duke Energy, which is headquartered here, will be impacted. In response to the Tennessee coal ash spill, the Environmental Protection Agency identified 49 high-hazard coal ash ponds across the country, a dozen of which are in North Carolina. (Duke Energy owns 10.) Four are near Charlotte, and two of those discharge wastewater just upstream from where Charlotte Mecklenburg Utilities withdraws 80 percent of the area's drinking water from Mountain Island Lake.

Read the rest of the article here.

You should know, Charlotte is one of only seven cities the EPA chose to host public hearings on the issue. If you're interested in speaking out at the hearing, the deadline to register as a speaker is tomorrow. You can register online here.

Even if you don't plan to speak, you're encouraged to attend. These unlined, high-hazard coal ash ponds are draining into our city's main drinking water source, and you deserve to know what's affecting the water flowing out of your faucets.

Some of the cities not chosen for coal ash hearings have taken it upon themselves to hold their own information hearings. Here's an example:

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