Inside Appalachian Voices

Taking Legal Action to Clean Up Belews Creek Coal Ash

Date: December 5, 2017

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On Oct. 3, the Southern Environmental Law Center sent Duke Energy Carolinas, LLC, a notice of intent to sue for violations of the Clean Water Act at the Belews Creek Steam Station near the predominately African-American community of Walnut Tree, N.C., and nearby homes. The notice was filed on behalf of Appalachian Voices, the North Carolina Conference of NAACP Branches and the Stokes County Branch of the NAACP.

Duke’s violations at the site include dumping its coal ash pollution into Belews Lake, Little Belews Creek, the Dan River and groundwater through leaks and seepage, and illegally using the creek as part of its wastewater pollution system, according to the environmental groups. The Clean Water Act requires citizen groups send a 60-day notice prior to filing suit.

Duke is required to excavate its ash and move it to dry, lined storage at 10 of its 16 sites in the two Carolinas — but they’ve refused to commit to cleaning up Belews Creek and five other coal ash sites in North Carolina.

“The people of Walnut Tree and surrounding communities have suffered the burden of Duke Energy’s leaking, unlined coal ash pollution for far too long,” says Rev. Gregory Hairston, Stokes County NAACP president. “We’ve been forced to fight for our right to clean water.”

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