Early this morning Greenpeace activists scaled the 400-foot smokestack at Progress Energy’s Asheville coal-fired power plant to call attention to the toxic and dangerous practice of burning coal for power. The 400MW facility is poised above heavily trafficked Interstate 26 and the French Broad River, and near South Asheville communities. In 2009 EPA classified the Asheville coal ash ponds as “high hazard” meaning that if a breach or collapse like the Kingston coal ash disaster of 2008 occurred, significant loss of life could result.
Greenpeace activists secured themselves to the coal loader and conveyers, which will prevent coal from entering the facility today. The Progress Energy owned Asheville Power Station uses the most destructive form of coal mining, mountain top removal, which is flattening mountains across Appalachia. The plant produces significant air pollution that degrades regional air quality with 1,994 tons of sulfur dioxide, 788 tons of nitrogen oxides, and 2,629,243 tons of carbon dioxide annually.
The Greenpeace action is part of their “Quit Coal” campaign – view a video here about today’s action.
See all of the action photos from Greenpeace earlier today.
North Carolina’s Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) recently tested waters surrounding coal ash ponds owned by Duke and Progress Energies, including the Asheville facility, where they found exceedences of hazardous metals such as boron, chloride, chromium, iron, manganese, selenium, total dissolved solids, nitrate, sulfate and thallium. And last summer, EarthJustice issued a report finding that North Carolina coal ash ponds are of particular concern given the lack of adequate state regulation, stating that “North Carolina has enough coal ash to flood an area the size of the UNC Raleigh campus 32 feet high.”
It’s high time that toxic coal ash and the practices around mining and burning coal are brought to an end. We’re grateful to Greenpeace for elevating additional attention to the issue as SACE staff continue working to bring resources to our partners and members on the issue across the Southeast in 2012. Recognizing that federal regulation is long overdue and essential to cleaning up our Southeast coal ash mess, SACE along with several coalition partners filed an intent to sue EPA on January 19, 2012 over delayed national rules to properly regulate toxic coal ash waste.
**For folks in Asheville, please join a special Green Drinks event this Wed. Feb. 15 from 6-8pm at Posana Cafe downtown to learn more about the dangers of coal ash and how you can get involved. Find the Facebook event here.**
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