Environment

Environment
5:00 am
Thu March 6, 2014

Day 31 Of The Coal Ash Spill: Eight More Metal Pipes

Credit Steven Alexander / USFWS

State regulators with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) say there are additional metal pipes at Duke Energy coal ash ponds that pose a threat.
State regulators with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) say there are additional metal pipes at Duke Energy coal ash ponds that pose a threat. It was a metal corrugated storm water pipe running under a coal ash pond in Eden that ruptured 31 days ago, setting off the third largest spill of its kind in U-S history. DENR announced today that eight other metal pipes run through retention walls, around coal ash pits, but not under them. These eight serve a different function than the pipe that broke last month. The eight discharge pipes remove surface water from the top of the lagoons once coal ash has settled at the bottom. Duke has previously stated it was unaware of any other metal pipes at its 14 coal-fired power plants.

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Environment
12:57 pm
Wed March 5, 2014

Coal Ash Concerns, Lack Of Enforcement Revealed In Emails

On February 2, between 50,000 and 82,000 tons of coal ash and 27 million gallons of ash pond water waste were released at Duke Energy’s Dan River Steam Station (pictured above) north of Eden, N.C.
Credit Steven Alexander / USFWS

Internal emails released this week reveal that officials with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) have been concerned about coal ash ponds at Duke Energy sites for years.

The Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC) obtained the documents as part of its effort to close coal ash ponds throughout the state. The roughly 400 pages of emails reveal employees at the state agency were concerned about storm water runoff at six sites owned by Duke Energy.

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Black Ice
8:18 am
Tue March 4, 2014

Black Ice Makes For Slippery Roads, Closes Schools

The National Weather Service is warning of black ice on roadways this morning.
Credit Danielle Scott http://www.flickr.com/photos/danielle_scott/ / Flickr Creative Commons

Temperatures dropped into the teens across the Piedmont overnight, freezing yesterday's rain and snowfall. Now roadways are covered with black ice.

Gail Hartfield is a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Raleigh. She says temperatures will be in the 20s all morning and won't warm to freezing or above until lunchtime.

“Just encouraging people to take it easy this morning,” Hartfield said. “If you can postpone travel until after noon, that's great and better. You'll see road conditions much improved over what they'll be this morning.”

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Environment
8:13 am
Mon March 3, 2014

The Triangle Could Get Caught Up In A Wintry Mix Today

The National Weather Service says the Triangle should expect a wintry mix today.
Credit David Park, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada on 27 Dec 2009. / Wikipedia Creative Commons

Updated 10:48 a.m.:

A cold front is moving into the Triangle and creeping eastward toward the coast. Temperatures are expected to drop into the 20s later today.

Scott Sharpe is a senior forecaster at the National Weather Service in Raleigh. He said a wintry mix is expected across the region sometime after lunch.

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Environment
5:00 am
Sat March 1, 2014

NC Coal Ash Disaster Discussed On Diane Rehm Show

Diane Rehm
Credit Glogau Photography

Did you miss it? The Diane Rehm Show devoted an episode earlier this week to the coal ash spill in Eden, NC.

(The spill was caused by a pipe failure at a Duke Energy location. Coal ash is leftover from the process of burning coal. The ash is considered toxic, and is held in ponds. This spill is the third largest of its kind in U.S. history.)

This was an interesting part of the show, between Frank Holleman of the Southern Environmental Law Center and Diane Rehm:

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Environment
12:02 pm
Fri February 28, 2014

Were There Any Changes In Coal Ash Clean-Up After Other Disasters In The U.S.?

The cleanup for the 2008 Tennessee coal ash disaster. Image taken March 2012.
Credit Appalachian Voices / via Creative Commons/Flickr

At least 30,000 tons of coal ash poured through a broken Duke Energy stormwater pipe and into the Dan River earlier this month. The spill is the third largest of its kind in US history.

But that spill was much smaller than an accident in Tennessee six years ago.

It was the middle of the night, three days before Christmas in 2008 when part of a retention wall at a Tennessee Valley Authority coal ash pond ruptured.  A dike failed and millions of gallons of potentially toxic waste were unleashed.

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Environment
7:58 am
Fri February 28, 2014

Why Do NC Fishermen Want To Pay More To Fund Regulation?

The US Fish and Wildlife service requires that North Carolina pay observers to check commercial fishing gillnets and make sure they don't entangle endangered sea turtles.
Credit Pedro Ramirez, Jr. / U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

A trade group of North Carolina commercial fishermen has proposed that the General Assembly raise their fishing license fees to pay for regulatory measures.

Flounder fishermen sometimes get endangered sea turtles caught in their gillnets, so federal law requires that the state hire trained "observers" to check nets regularly. The General Assembly only funded the observer program until next summer, but if there's no observer at all, the state will be required to stop all gillnet fishing.

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Pork Virus
11:32 am
Thu February 27, 2014

Where Do Pigs Go When They Die?

Credit Chris Cioffi

North Carolina's pig industry is under assault. A new virus, that just arrived in America last spring is spreading through the pork population, causing as much as 2% of the herd to die. What's most alarming is how fast Porcine epidemic diarrhea, or PED, takes hold.

"I mean you can go in and see a house that looks completely normal, running around, feeding everything. You can come back this afternoon and half the pigs are dead," said Dr. Tom Ray of the state veterinary office.

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Environment
12:55 pm
Wed February 26, 2014

Governor 'Using Words, Not Actions' With Duke Energy

Governor Pat McCrory
Credit Hal Goodtree / Creative Commons/Flickr

Governor Pat McCrory has sent a letter to Duke Energy’s CEO asking the company to remove coal ash from sites near waterways. In the letter McCrory says his administration has expressed its primary desire that coal ash ponds be moved away from waterways.

“This is a good development but we’re still dealing with words and not actions,” said Frank Holleman is senior attorney with the Southern Environmental Law Center.”

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Environment
8:17 am
Wed February 26, 2014

Day 23 In Coal Ash: Drones; Settlements And Compelling Removal

Wake Forest grad student Max Messinger with the unmanned aerial vehicle he flew over a coal ash pond.
Credit Jeff Tiberii

Officials with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) announced Tuesday they might require Duke Energy to remove all coal ash at the site of a massive spill near the Virginia border.

DENR sent a letter to Duke this week, three weeks after the largest spill of its kind in U.S. history. In the letter the state agency informed the utility it’s considering changes to a permit that regulates how much pollutants the company can legally release into the river. The possible change does not apply to the company’s 29 other unlined coal ash ponds.

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