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Just eight days apart, two hazardous spills have threatened North Carolina waterways: a coal ash spill in Eden and a raw sewage spill near Burlington.
The coal ash spill was discovered by Duke Energy on Monday, and its officials informed state regulators at the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources. However, neither Duke nor DENR officials issued public warnings or statements.
News of the coal ash spill began circulating when a postal worker in Eden alerted the Dan River Basin Association that the river was running black. As media and advocates began investigating, both Duke and DENR finally issued statements - more than 24 hours after the spill was found.
The Haw River sewage spill is equally troubling. Last Monday, the city of Burlington had a major sewage spill and 3.5 million gallons of sewage went into the Haw River. However, according to media reports, DENR officials advised against giving public notice until the leak was stopped, so the public wasn't notified until Thursday. 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 to clean up and handle their highly toxic waste ponds, but the N.C. industry and regulators have done little to keep North Carolinians safe from coal ash.
The bottom line is that it's time for N.C. DENR and our state legislators to prioritize our nine million residents' safety and not polluters.
Follow this link to tell our state officials that the delayed notification of these spills is unacceptable and encourage them to take steps similar to South Carolina's by cleaning up our coal ash: avl.mx/04o