The Alliance of Carolinians Together Against Coal Ash is elated and relieved to hear the Department of Environmental Quality’s decision to fully excavate the coal ash ponds at Allen, Belews Creek, Cliffside, Marshall, Mayo, and Roxboro. ACT agrees with the assessment made by the DEQ that excavation of all six sites is the only closure option that meets the requirements of the Coal Ash Management Act to best protect public health.

Since the Dan River spill in 2014, communities across North Carolina have been calling on the governor and the Department of Environmental Quality to require full excavation of these toxic coal ash ponds. Despite Duke’s repeated lobbying for weaker legislation and pushing for inadequate cleanup through cap-in-place, frontline communities have fought for years to hold our government and Duke Energy accountable. Today, the governor and the DEQ have listened and done the right thing by calling for full excavation.

North Carolina will join Virginia and South Carolina, which have also called for full excavation of coal ash, in protecting its environment and its citizens from the dangers of contamination.

It has been a long, painstaking process to arrive at this day.  Sadly, not all of our friends made it to see this victory. But we honor their fighting spirits and acknowledge their contributions to this process and this outcome.  

Faye Woods, who lives just outside the ½ mile limit from the state’s largest coal ash basins at the Roxboro Steam Station said, “At least we know that the damage that coal ash has been doing to the surrounding community will be stopped, though it’s already caused damage and health concerns for many of us.  Our property values were already falling due to the piles of coal ash, so I’m relieved that will be gone.”

Marilyn Jeffers who lives inside the ½ mile limit and did receive a whole house filtration system said, “It’s wonderful to hear about DEQ making Duke clean up all the ash. I do worry about Duke trying to make customers pay for all of the cleanup, and we need to be ready to work against that, as it wouldn’t be fair.”

Caroline Armijo with Residents for Coal Ash Cleanup in Belews Creek said, “This decision does not come down to a matter of cost. It comes down to compassion and respect for the lives of the people who love this state and their homes. It will determine the outcome of Governor Cooper’s legacy. Coal ash is the reason he became North Carolina’s governor. He will be remembered by how these closures play out.”

Bobby Jones with Down East Coal Ash Coalition in Goldsboro said, “This is a powerful moment. This is a true result of fusion activism, a result of what happens when we apply direct pressure on every level. This should remind us, as North Carolinians, that we have to abandon silos and come together and work together.”