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Duke Power Gets Permit to Build Another Coal Ash Dump on Dan River

posted Dec 9, 2016, 8:15 AM by Rahni Jere Sumler   [ updated Dec 27, 2016, 2:42 PM ]
My family currently lives on ancestral land in Eden, NC. It was a number of acres owned by my great great grandfather, Lewis Harrison. It was obtained from his mother, Mariah. Upon me and my family returning from the Thanksgiving holiday, we had received a permit for building a coal ash dump not too far from my backyard in a place by along Dan River called Sharpe Farm.
Since the coal ash spill in February 2014, Duke Energy has pledged to remove the coal ash [1] but intends to create another dump in Eden, NC. Sharpe Farm was purchased by Duke Power long before they received the permit to build, some 3-4 years prior.
Dan River in Danville Virginia

By MarmadukePercy (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 ( or GFDL (], via Wikimedia Commons

Duke Power Coal Ash Dump
Zipcode: 27288

Community DIary by Rahni S.

A year ago we had been passing paper petitions to stop the dump, as this is an older community. Things went quiet for a year but clearly our former Governor McCrory, also a former Duke Power employee,  pushed the permit before he finally conceded from office in a recent "bloodless coup". He has a detailed history of catering to Duke Power, which was many of the reasons why he was voted out of the office [8].
Duke Energy is over saturating local politics with campaign money, dumping over $1 Million of contributions into NC local elections since 2005 [6], a very large amount for such a small county. With so much invested in the local elections and an immediate need rid themselves of the coal ash, Duke Energy is a large political player seeking to silence the community. While the DENR at the State level has pledged to eliminate the risk to our drinking sources [2], members from the community report that their mayor, the Mayor of Eden, NC told them he cannot speak on their behalf back at a townhall in 2015.

Duke Energy has also been untruthful and irresponsible. Company directors have been spreading misinformation in the communities that coal ash is safe and is “much like ash from your charcoal grill or your wood fireplace,” Richard Baker, Duke Energy’s Director of Water and Natural Resources. According to Dennis Lemly, a researcher of coal ash for more than 30 years at both Wake Forest University and for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, he says that the charcoal in your grill is not true coal and that it "doesn't have nearly as high a concentration of these trace elements or heavy metals.” [1]
Despite the danger, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has also failed to act. After months aggravated delay, the EPA gave coal ash waste the same classification as household trash [7]. This has lead to further misinformation that continues to endanger the public. This calls for a review by the OSG. This is a matter of public health. We must educate and protect our communities.

Duke Energy has history of causing severe neglect and damage. Belews Creek Stream Station itself has served as a coal ash dump since the 1960s [5]. It has been classified as a high hazard by North Carolina's DENR; releasing slews of toxic cancer causing heavy metals and has since then been shut down [5]. In addition, Duke Energy has broken the record for state fines with a $25.1 million penalty for groundwater damage in Wilmington, NC [3].
As a result, there has been undeniably high instances of cancer in the community of Belews Creek [4] and downstream of the community in Eden, NC. In the past 10 years alone, the community has reported a disturbingly high number of cancer deaths. These are historically poor Black and Latino communities with less affluent neighborhoods. They also happen to make up one of the few places where there are still parts of the community where people own the land that they live on. Therefore there has been no investigation or recognition correlating the high number of cancer deaths to the water contamination by the old unregulated coal ash dump.

With constantly proven failures, disregard for public health, and numerous casualties within our families, Duke Energy should not be allowed to construct another dump in our community. Coal ash dumps have not been proven as a safe way to dispose of the material [1], and continue to pose that risk with very little oversight [5].