Resolution: Dan River Coal Ash Cleanup Must Continue

1) WHEREAS, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on July 18, 2014, decided to permit Duke Energy to arbitrarily abort its cleanup of the Dan River and instead to merely monitor the approximately 94% of the coal ash remaining in the Dan River and affected parts; and

(2) WHEREAS, EPA’s decision overrides a May 22, 2014 agreement that Duke Energy would conduct a “comprehensive assessment and cleanup of the Dan River and affected parts under EPA Superfund supervision, with consultation from federal wildlife officials, the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), and the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality;” and

(3) WHEREAS, the decision to monitor the coal ash, instead of removing it from the Dan River and affected parts, overrides also a June 9, 2014 signed enforcement agreement with environmental and wildlife officials in North Carolina and Virginia and Duke Energy  “for the cleanup of coal ash from the Dan River, which flows through the two states.” The enforcement agreement required Duke Energy to pay “any reasonable cost associated with the February coal ash discharge into the Dan River,” and with “no cap on what the company might be required to spend;” and

(4) WHEREAS, a person representing a corporation makes the corporation only as good as his or her word, and Duke Energy’s CEO Lynn Good and President of Utility Operations Paul Newton have said that Duke is committed to cleaning up the river,  “Whatever it may be that is required of the river, you have our complete, 100 percent commitment to make it right . . . . We take full responsibility;” and

(5) WHEREAS, according to the Southern Environmental Law Center, “Superfund status establishes beyond a doubt that the coal ash poses substantial risks to clean water and human health;” and

(6) WHEREAS, according to WVTD Channel 11, doctors stated that coal ash health concerns run the gamut from rashes to stunted brain development to myriad cancers, and according to President-Elect Physicians for Social Responsibility Dr. Lynn Ringenberg, “It can cause eye and skin irritation, rashes, redness,” and, “if you ingest a little, it can cause stomach problems and ulcers, kidney damage; it can affect the nervous system and can be absorbed through the skin. There are health concerns with that much coal ash in the water” (; and

(7) WHEREAS, according to Ringenberg, “Coal ash contains the deadliest heavy metals on the planet earth [and] if you just list a few of them, it’s mind-boggling. You’ve got arsenic and lead and mercury and cadmium, chromium, selenium, beryllium, boron. It just has all sorts of nasty stuff in it . . . . I  WOULDN’T ALLOW MY KIDS OR GRANDKIDS TO PLAY IN THAT RIVER;” and

(8) WHEREAS, a July 22, 2014 press statement by North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) recommended “lifting the recreational water advisory” on the Dan River and confirmed “that no incidental ingestion or skin contact risks exist for the sediment;” and

(9) WHEREAS, according to WTVD 11 reporter Jon Camp, “We spent the past three days trying to ask DHHS why they lifted the water advisory; we’ve been turned down for interviews three times and have been repeatedly told in emails, ‘The decision was made by scientists studying sampling data.’ They wouldn’t say who if anyone made the call, and they referred us to DENR. A spokesperson for the environmental agency said they wouldn’t take an official position on the DHHS announcement;” and

(10) WHEREAS, the reliability of knowledge and of public statements by DHHS and DENR concerning the Dan River coal ash contamination cannot be known because of conflicting vested interests on the part of the parties responsible (Duke Energy, DENR, and the EPA) for the coal ash pollution unless the knowledge and public statements are based on an independent, transparent scientific verification process; and,

(11) WHEREAS, Water Science Chief for the N.C. Division of Water Resources Dianne Reid said on July 19, 2014, “Ecologically, you could do more damage trying to remove all the ash than leaving it in place” and that “disturbing the river bottom also risks stirring up the toxic mercury and cancer-causing chemicals called PCBs that already contaminate the Dan;” and

(12) WHEREAS, Ms. Reid’s position on “not disturbing the river bottom” is contradicted by the EPA’s following statements concerning vacuuming up contaminated sediment: “The Hudson River is not cleaning itself . . . . PCBs in the sediment are not safely buried . . . . River sediment is continually redistributed across the bottom by erosion and river flows . . . . Without targeted dredging, PCBs in the sediment will continue to find their way into fish at unacceptable levels and for an unacceptable length of time . . . . Letting nature take its course will not protect people and animals who eat fish from the Hudson” (; and

(13) WHEREAS, the EPA’s arbitrary decision to abrogate agreements for a comprehensive assessment and cleanup of the coal ash, and to monitor the river instead, as well as the DHHS decision to lift the recreational advisory without public access to independent scientific supporting data, clearly demonstrate the need for a transparent scientific verification process using quality-assured/quality-controlled split-sampling and testing for which citizens have been calling; and

(14) WHEREAS, to conduct a comprehensive cleanup based on transparent scientific truth, citizens submitted a rationale, dated June 2, 2014, to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy and Region 4 EPA Administrator Heather McTeer Toney for use of the EPA’s Environmental Justice stakeholder/collaborative process for a comprehensive cleanup of the Dan River and affected areas of the Roanoke River Basin (including Kerr Lake Reservoir and Lake Gaston) but have received no response; and

(15) WHEREAS, stakeholders who depend on clean water from the Dan River/Roanoke River Basin and on a safe and untainted reputation for the region’s economy are outraged and do not accept the validity of the EPA’s reasons for nullifying the cleanup agreements, aborting Duke Energy’s vacuum dredging cleanup, and substituting monitoring instead. Stakeholders include local governments, municipalities, property owners, businesses such as agriculture, recreation, and tourism, and their environmental and civil rights representatives; and

(16) WHEREAS, monitoring as a substitute for removing the remaining coal ash from the waters is based on the argument that coal ash contaminants do not exceed allegedly safe maximum contaminant levels (federal limits) and that therefore the coal ash in the river allegedly poses no greater risk than if it were out of the river; and

(17) WHEREAS, legal and allegedly safe maximum contaminant levels are arbitrary because a wide range of differences exists concerning these levels among federal regulatory agencies and among members of the risk assessment community often using the same risk assessment data (Health Physics Society). The federal contamination limits are also arbitrary because they are determined by risk factors and cost benefits to polluting parties ( and because the levels keep changing; and

(18) WHEREAS, even if safe maximum contaminant levels could be known and agreed upon, they would differ among the general population because what might be a safe maximum contaminant level threshold for some may be above the safe threshold for others;and

(19) WHEREAS, successful vacuum dredging cleanups are being conducted in the massive waters of the Hudson River and have been conducted in New York’s Lake Champlain where the cleanup was “completed on time, under budget, without stirring up contaminants while reducing onsite contamination by more than (; and

(20) WHEREAS, the Lake Champlain cleanup efforts were perceived as a positive for the community and a major contributing factor in maintaining the reputation of the area so that the economic status quo was maintained during the cleanup, while people lived and worked, knowing that their environment was becoming cleaner, safer, and their property more valuable as the vacuum dredging was occurring; and

 (21) WHEREAS, the following public statement by EPA Region 4 Administrator McTeer Toney (when the agreement for a comprehensive cleanup overseen by the EPA Superfund was signed)  demonstrates yet another serious lack of EPA consistency and credibility: “The EPA will work with Duke Energy to ensure that cleanup of the site, and affected areas, is comprehensive, based on sound scientific and ecological principles, complies with all federal and state environmental standards . . . . moves as quickly as possible [and that] protection of public health and safety remains a primary concern, along with the long-term ecological health of the Dan River ( ; and

(22) WHEREAS, according to the EPA, “The Superfund program places a high value on public participation during investigation and cleanup of hazardous sites . . . . EPA believes that the more communities are informed and involved in the decision-making process, the better . . . . Community involvement gives the public the ability to influence how a site is cleaned up and how people are affected by the process . . . . Collaboration produces a better end result for everyone, including the environment”  ( ________________________________________________________________________________________

(1) RESOLVED, That we the people who depend upon the health and safety of the Dan River and affected areas downstream, including Kerr Lake Reservoir and Lake Gaston (the water supply to two million North Carolinians and Virginians, with Raleigh on tap as needed),  are united in our efforts and committed to securing a timely, transparent, Superfund stakeholder-driven, collaborative comprehensive assessment and cleanup of the Dan River coal ash by Duke Energy so we can know that the waters of the Dan River and the Roanoke River Basin have been restored to their pre-coal ash contaminant status when the cleanup process has been completed; and

(2) RESOLVED, That environmental justice will be served in the Dan River coal ash cleanup by using the EPA’s Environmental Justice Collaborative ProblemSolving (CPS) Program, which according to the EPA, “is a flexible approach that can be applied to many situations that require collaboration.” It also is “particularly useful when dealing with environmental justice issues that are complex and involve many stakeholders, and where conflicts need to be resolved” and was developed to “provide direct financial and technical assistance” and “to address environmental and public health issues in a collaborative manner with various stakeholders such as communities, industry, academic institutions, and others in order to ensure environmental justice for all communities,”including,“protecting human health and the environment for everyone, but also that all people are treated fairly and given the opportunity to participate meaningfully in the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies” (; and

 (3) RESOLVED, That we have confirmed, according to a poll conducted on July 25 and 26, 2014, by Raleigh-based Public Policy Polling (PPP), voters overwhelmingly agree “Duke Energy should clean up the coal ash left in the Dan. A solid 80 percent of voters surveyed say Duke Energy should have to clean up the 36,000 tons of toxic ash that remain in the Dan River out of the approximately 39,000 tons spilled. That includes 89 percent of Democrats, 76 percent of Republicans, and 72 percent of independents;” and be it further

(4) RESOLVED, That the EPA should stop discriminating against this region of the South and adhere to its own principles of environmental equality and justice and do for the Dan River and affected parts (southern waters) what the agency did for cleaning up Lake Champlain and what the EPA said and is doing for cleaning up the Hudson River (northern waters):  “The Hudson River [substitute “the Dan River”] can one day be as healthy as it is beautiful, and the ecological benefits of cleaning up the river will be enjoyed for generations to come. But it will take the collective will of the thousands of people who cherish the river for its history, its resources, and its natural beauty” (

If you want the Dan River completely cleaned up and to help set an effective, safe, and just precedent for the cleanup of Duke Energy’s coal ash pits and ponds, please endorse this resolution and by signing your name in the comment box below and leaving a comment if you want:

US EPA Region 4 Administrator Heather McTeer Toney
Sam Nunn Atlanta Federal Center (SNAFC)
61 Forsyth Street SW
Atlanta, GA 30303-8960

For more information, contact Deborah and Ken Ferruccio, Warren County, North Carolina (252) 257-2604 ( and go to (Environmental Justice –PollutionPrevention)