SELC’s Frank Holleman featured on “60 Minutes”
Last weekend, the CBS news magazine 60 Minutes featured SELC’s Frank Holleman during a segment about coal ash pollution in North Carolina. SELC is actively involved in cleanup efforts at all 14 coal ash sites in North Carolina. Having achieved success in South Carolina, we are taking SELC's coal ash initiative to Virginia and Tennessee.
A Summary of SELC’s Coal Ash Campaign
Nearly every major river in the Southeast has one or more lagoons on its banks holding slurries of coal ash from power plants. Containing millions of tons of toxin-laden waste, these lagoons are unlined and have leaked arsenic, mercury, thallium, selenium, and other contaminants into the rivers and the underlying groundwater for years.
After the 2008 Kingston spill in Tennessee, we urged state and federal governments to act. When they did not, in 2011 we began enforcing the law ourselves, on behalf of local conservation groups. After we took legal action against Santee-Cooper and SCE&G in South Carolina, both companies agreed to remove coal ash from the banks of the state’s waterways. Eventually the state’s third and final major utility, Duke Energy, promised to clean up some of its South Carolina coal ash when we highlighted the dangers to the press as well as to state officials.
In North Carolina, our quest to clean up over 100 million of tons of toxic ash stored at 14 Duke Energy plants began with legal action to enforce North Carolina’s groundwater laws and to clean up Duke facilites near Asheville, Charlotte, and Wilmington. Our action forced the State to undertake statewide enforcement actions against the utility. After a spill at a Duke plant on the banks of the Dan River in early 2014, the company agreed to clean up all three of these facilities—along with Dan River. SELC is now representing citizen groups in all pending coal ash enforcement actions across the state, giving citizens the same rights as Duke Energy and the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources. These enforcement actions brought Duke Energy’s illegal pollution to light, and now a federal criminal grand jury is investigating the coal ash activities of the company and the state agency that is supposed to regulate it.
Within the past months, SELC has taken our coal ash campaign to Virginia and Tennessee. We sent notices of our intent to sue to clean up coal ash from a Dominion facility on the Potomac River near Washington, D.C, and at a TVA plant on the Cumberland River near Nashville.