Over 100 people crowded into a Henderson library late last week with one subject on their collective minds…coal ash in Kerr Lake. Deborah Ferruccio, a Kerr Lake enthusiast and activist and others felt they needed a forum and to see if there are common bonds moving forward on securing more information about the ramifications of coal ash in Kerr Lake and in securing cleanup and reparation from Duke Power, the originator of the spill of the toxins into the Dan River this past February.

In addition to Ferruccio, other recognizable leaders/speakers in attendance included Gene Addesso from the Roanoke River Basin Association(RRBA), Mike Ward, Andrew Lester (Exec Director-RRBA), Amy Adams (Appalachian Voices), Mary Maclean (SELC), Mike Luccia, and Larry Matthews, a co-founder and member of Kerr Lake Park Watch.  There was not a huge media turnout but WTVD, ABC 11 did file this report:

Kerr Lake Park Watch’s Larry Matthews represented his group focusing on two main questions. 
Leaders acknowledged that no one is getting any answers to a lot of varied questions on coal ash.  KLPW’s Matthews, spoke as representing the nearly 300 members of KLPW, “We know that while KLPW has to be concerned with the river cleanup, our biggest concern is the safety and condition of Kerr Lake.  With that in mind I have 2 questions:  1. Duke has stated they will clean up the spill in the Dan River with insurance and stockholder funding. That’s great, but when will the clean up begin?  The ash is in the river and needs to come out.  It does not take multiple studies to know that. Just clean up the river ASAP.  2. When is someone going to tell us if Kerr Lake is safe to recreate in?”

Multiple state and federal agencies and special interest groups are totally involved in this issue. Matthews continued, “But, where does the US Army Corp of Engineers stand in all this? They are the “owners/managers” of Kerr Lake and to my knowledge have done nothing to force Duke to begin clean up immediately so that the ‘USACE’s lake’ is not polluted.”

Other speakers began to comment as to goals for the consortium of varied groups including short term goals, 
ash clean up as soon as possible.  Long term goals mentioned include increased and/or improved regulations, litigations, penalties as appropriate, and certainly prevention of this type of spill recurring.

Some of the “actionable goals” include to challenge Duke every way possible, for instance, a concerned group will gain access to Duke’s upcoming stockholder meeting in Charlotte and speak at that meeting.  Another group will be demonstrating outside the stockholders meeting.  Appalachian Voices leader, Amy Adams shared details on the “testing” that has been done and is supposedly being done. She shared concerns (as an example) that the day she was on the river taking samples, government teams were sampling outside the ash plume, etc. On action Adams said, “We must contact any/all government agencies and the current administration and drive them to do more.”

Details were provided by Mary Maclean on current legal actions regarding our coal ash issue along with details on similar issues in other states that the SELC has been involved in.

Questions and dialogue came up about Duke Power and the power company’s  comments made regarding the huge cost of the clean up.  Mike Luccia challenged it in his discussion that even though the cost seemed huge, relative to Duke’s revenues and profits over 5-10 years, there was a rounding error and the cost is relatively small to those profits.

Though some concerns, opinions and fears were more emotional in nature than fact producing, any good rally needs cheering which in addition to a few more, came from Andrew Lester the Executive Director of the Roanoke River Basin Association who spoke to “rally the troops” and invited people to join the RRBA.

As to any resolve, no one in the room knew the answer to either of the KLPW questions. They had their opinions, but we cannot yet provide the over two million (2,000,000) people who will visit Kerr Lake, with an absolute answer or answers.

There was also a petition for people to sign along with several pieces of information regarding public officials to contact. There were also “letter” templates for those who want to write a letter to the public officials.

Deborah Ferruccio and the lead team will provide those who provided email addresses with updates along the way.  No formal group nor any specific tasks assigned to individuals or groups were given, but attendees were reminded that anyone is welcome by any/all of these organizations to join and assist in any way possible.

Meanwhile, Kerr Lake Park Watch will continue its pursuit of answers about coal ash and Kerr Lake.

Posted in: KLPW - Environmental, KLPW - MAIN NEWS, KLPW - WATER RELATED

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