(Black and white photos courtesy ofAhmer Inam)
On Tuesday, 150 concerned community members from across North Carolina gathered outside of Duke Energy Headquarters in Charlotte, NC to demand an end to toxic coal ash dumping. They'd had enough of Duke's reckless antics, which had yet again put them and their families at risk.
On February 2nd, a storm water pipe below a coal ash pond in Eden, NC gave way. Tens of thousands of tons of toxic coal ash spilled into the Dan River, a drinking water supply for three cities across two states. Duke delayed notifying the public by more than 24 hours and under-reported the severity of the situation.
In the past three weeks, environmental groups across the state including Greepeace, Sierra Club, and Appalachian Voices collected over 9,000 petition signatures, calling on Duke to pay for both the spill in Eden and the prevention of future crises by moving their other coal ash dumps to dry, lined landfills away from waterways. On the day of the delivery, Duke declined to accept the petitions from their customers, reneging previous plans for acceptance.
After 45 minutes of picketing and chanting, Tom Williams a PR representative for Duke, sheepishly entered the crowd to take the petitions without comment. Duke owns 32 ash ponds in 14 locations around NC. It remains to be seen who will foot the bill for upgrading these coal ash dumps. Access to clean water is a fundamental right and Duke is not going to get away with this crime.