Family Living Near Rowan County Coal Ash Pond Reacts To Legislat - myfoxcarolinas.com

Family Living Near Rowan County Coal Ash Pond Reacts To Legislation

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North Carolina lawmakers passed a bill to clean up four of the 14 coal ash plant sites in the state. The legislation does not require clean up at the Buck Steam Plant coal ash ponds in Rowan County. Some people living in that community say the legislation does not go far enough.

Ron and JoAnn Thomas live near Duke Energy's Buck Steam Plant. An environmental group, Waterkeeper Alliance, did testing on wells in the area. The group says contamination from the pond filled with coal ash, the collection of waste leftover from the retired coal-burning plant, is seeping onto the Thomases' land.

Ron Thomas said, “Both my grandsons were wanting to build a house down here, but you know with all this, I just don't feel comfortable.”

Waterkeeper Alliance says its tests found a cancer-causing chemical in the drinking water. Ron Thomas said, “The water from the seepage is going into the river (Yadkin River). That's affecting other people, as well as us.”

Duke Energy has consistently said they do testing in the area and that the results show neighbors' wells are safe.

Ron's wife JoAnn is concerned, especially after a coal ash spill in the Dan River earlier this year. JoAnn Thomas said, “I think we have a crisis waiting to happen, just like Dan River.”

The Thomases went to Raleigh to try and get lawmakers to make Duke Energy dig out the coal ash and move it away from their land.

Rep. Chuck McGrady was one of the lawmakers in on the final talks about what to include in the bill. McGrady explained why only four sites were included for required clean-up. He said, “You've got to start somewhere. Secondly, we don't have enough landfill space in the entire state to take all of this coal ash. All of them are decades old and some of them are nearly a century old and you can imagine how much coal ash we're talking about.”

The Thomases don't drink or cook with the water that comes from their faucet anymore and they don't know if doing those things in the past has harmed them. JoAnn Thomas said, “We thought of about 75 people, without digging very deep, that had had mainly brain tumors and some that had had cancer in our close neighborhood.”

The four sites on the bill's required clean up list are Riverbend in the Charlotte region, the Dan River, the Sutton Plant on the coast, and a site in Asheville. For the plants not on the list, the legislation requires Duke Energy to evaluate and determine a solution for the coal ash. State regulators and a Coal Ash Commission will have to sign off on the plans.

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