WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) – More concerns are spreading over coal ash issues in the Cape Fear region and now Wilmington City Council members are thinking about how they can stop it from becoming a problem here.
Environmentalists in Wilmington are speaking out, hoping city leaders will take action to keep the toxic substance out of your drinking water.
Tuesday night council members heard from the North Carolina Sierra Club, the Cape Fear River Keeper, and Duke Progress Energy.
Concern across the country started with a 70 mile spill across the Dan River. Now, city leaders in Wilmington are faced with the decision of what to do when it makes its way to our area.
Environmentalists say that North Carolina legislators can and should act to prevent coal ash from causing health problems in our community.
Kemp Burdette, with the Cape Fear River Keeper, explained that they're worried about breaks in dams, groundwater intrusion, and the possibility of illegal pumping.
"We're drinking the water out of the Cape Fear River," Burdette said. "These ponds up at the Cape Fear plant, they could be discharging toxins into the Cape Fear River that we then turn around and put in our mouths. I can't think of a more basic, but important reason for people to care."
According to Duke Energy there are coal ash ponds in our area even after the closing of the Sutton Plant in November. Mike Hughes, with the company, said they use the same storage practices as 650 other ash basins across the country.
While they agreed that coal ash issues need to be addressed, Hughes has given a clear warning to city leaders to think about removal plans before taking action.
"There is a lot of emotion behind this issue right now, and we understand that," said Hughes. "But it's very important for us to base public policy and changes to public policy on facts."
Hughes also pointed out that the cost of implementing changes could have a negative impact on taxpayers. Meanwhile, environmentalists asked the city to pass a resolution in support of legislative action to put in more proactive measures against coal ash treatment centers.
Council did not take action at its meeting on Tuesday night.
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