Toxic Tour Gives Visitors Closer Look At Charlotte’s Coal Ash Ponds

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CHARLOTTE, N.C.–Rhiannon Fion kicked off what she calls a toxic tour at the Catawba River Pump Station. It provides drinking water for 860,000 people in the Charlotte area. And it sits three miles downriver from Duke Energy’s Riverbend Coal Plant. A spill dumped at least 30 thousand tons of coal ash in the Dan River last month. But that water is constantly flowing. The water in Mountain Island Lake is dammed up. “It would be catastrophic, because we don’t have another source for our water,” said Fion.
 
Fion has taken at least three hundred people on these tours. She started giving them five years ago when readers of her reports in the Mountain Island Monitor wanted to see first hand what she was reporting about.
 
Now she writes the Coal Ash Chronicles and culminates each tour with a walk past “No Trespassing” signs onto private property they have permission to cross. 
 
Beyond the fence are the two 70 acre ponds where coal ash has been dumped and environmental watchdogs fear has been contaminating groundwater for decades. “Right now the banana peel and candy wrapper you throw away at home has more regulation on how it’s thrown away than the toxic sludge we’re standing next to, and that’s the real problem,” said Greenpeace’s North Carolina Organizer Monica Embrey.
 
Duke Energy says demolition of its ash ponds are already underway in the Charlotte area. It has promised to take another look at the condition of the rest of its ponds in North Carolina. A hearing is set to begin next week in the Justice Department’s Grand Jury investigation into the Coal Ash Spill.
 
For More Information about the Toxic Tours, contact Monica Embrey, Greenpeace’s North Carolina Organizer, membrey@greenpeace.org