The Latest News On The Coal Ash Spill in Eden, NC

Coal ash is the waste that remains when coal is burned. It is usually collected in a dump, known as a pond. North Carolina has more than 30 such sites in 14 different locations across the state. A pipe running under one of the ponds run by Duke Energy in Eden NC ruptured in February of 2014. The coal ash spilled, largely affecting the Dan River which flows into Virginia. The spill is the third largest of its kind in U.S. history.

Many see potential complications because North Carolina's governor, Pat McCrory, worked for Duke Energy for 28 years.

Duke Energy's coal-burning plant and the adjacent coal ash ponds by the Dan River.
Riverkeeper Foundation

Top Republicans in the North Carolina General Assembly say they’ve agreed on a plan to manage Duke Energy’s coal ash ponds. The plan for Duke Energy's 33 ponds has been roughly six months in the making, but just weeks ago negotiations broke down between the senators and representatives who were writing it.

Gov. Pat McCrory
www.governor.state.nc.us

Governor Pat McCrory is responding to charges that he misstated when he sold his stock in Duke Energy. McCrory worked for the company for almost 30 years. 

Speaking to reporters after an education conference held by the North Carolina Chamber, the Governor faced a series of questions about when he sold the Duke stock that was part of his 401k.

A Duke Energy power plant and coal ash ponds outside Asheville.
Zen Sutherland

A few members of the North Carolina House of Representatives will be back in Raleigh for a skeleton session today, but no real business is expected to be conducted. Technically, they need to be there to keep the legislature in session. That’s because they couldn’t agree with their colleagues in the Senate on one of their main priorities this summer – what to do about 33 coal ash dumps around the state.

This story starts in February this year, and you might have seen it on national newscasts.

Photo: The North Carolina seal in front of the state legislative building
Jorge Valencia

Gov. Pat McCrory has before him an annual spending plan for North Carolina, setting aside money to give public school teachers their first significant pay raise since 2008 - while cutting from public health, childhood development and other programs. McCrory has said he will sign the bill, and lawmakers said they have at least two other major pieces of legislation they will address this year. 

Gov. Pat McCrory
www.governor.state.nc.us

Governor Pat McCrory says he approves of the legislature's spending plan for state and will sign the bill.

The Senate already passed the $21 billion budget bill today and the House will likely approve it Saturday morning.

Governor Pat McCrory touted the budget proposal at a press conference on Friday.

“We've got a 2.2 percent increase in the general fund budget with no tax increase, with teacher pay raises, no elimination of teachers assistants and we've kept the integrity of our Medicaid, I'm proud of it,” he said.

Photo: The Daily Show
Comedy Central

As North Carolina lawmakers are wrapping their “short” legislative session, which dragged on more than a month longer than they’d originally anticipated, they struck a deal on a plan to raise public school teacher pay. They also agreed to replace the state’s expiring credits for movie and television companies with a more modest grant package.

N.C. General Assembly, State Legislature
Dave DeWitt

  

The General Assembly’s budget proposal is headed to the state House after a late night in the Senate. 

Senators passed the $21 billion spending plan around 1:00 a.m. and then adjourned for the session. But they left some bills on the table, including a plan to clean up Duke Energy’s coal ash ponds and a proposal to overhaul Medicaid.

Guest host Phoebe Judge talks with WUNC capitol reporter Jorge Valencia and WUNC's education policy reporter, Reema Khrais, about the conclusion of the short session.

NC Legislative Building,
Dave DeWitt

After a 15-hour day at the legislature, Senators voted this morning to pass the $21.3 billion state spending plan. 

Senators didn't leave the legislative building until about 1 a.m. They were determined to make a final vote on the budget and wrap up any loose ends before heading home. 

But they'll be back soon enough. They're expected to return in a couple of weeks to take up any possible vetoes from the Governor. Then, they'll be back in November to pick up at least two bills they didn't finish. 

Tourism is doing well along the Dan River in Rockingham County, a few miles upstream from the site of a massive coal ash spill in February.
Jeff Tiberii

Following a massive coal ash spill into the Dan River in February, The Department of Health and Human Services issued an advisory downstream from the site, recommending people stay out of the water. Now, after surface water and soil testing, state health officials say recreational use of the Dan River is safe.

 

It has now been almost six months since a Duke Energy storm water pipe ruptured near the Virginia border, sending 39,000 tons of potentially toxic material into the Dan River. Some of the effects have been marginal and others remain unknown.

Duke Energy's coal-burning plant and the adjacent coal ash ponds by the Dan River.
Riverkeeper Foundation

The state House of Representatives has signed off on a plan to close and clean up Duke Energy’s 33 coal ash ponds.

The ash in the ponds is a contamination threat to waterways. And Duke Energy says it could cost up to 10-billion dollars to remove all of it.

In a House debate today, Democratic leader Larry Hall asked who would pay for the clean up.

"The rate payers really should not be penalized further in this bill," Hall said."That's the big elephant in the room."

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