RALEIGH: Poll: 90% of voters aware of Dan River coal ash spill - WRBL

Poll: 90% of voters aware of Dan River coal ash spill

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Protesters rally outside the Governor's Mansion. (Steve Sbraccia, WNCN) Protesters rally outside the Governor's Mansion. (Steve Sbraccia, WNCN)
RALEIGH, N.C. -

As pressure continues to mount on Duke Energy and the NorthCarolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources, just about everyNorth Carolina voter is aware of the massive coal ash spill into the Dan River.

The League of Conservation Voters released results of a new pollconducted by Raleigh-based Public Policy Polling that found nine out of 10voters in the state know about the spill. Of those aware of environmentaldisaster, 93 percent said they want state lawmakers to force Duke Energy toclean up the Dan River.

The survey found 81 percent of voters want lawmakers to actnow, and not study the issue any further.

Click Here to view the results of the poll

"We're not going to wake up tomorrow and find the situationsolved. It's going to take years to correct," said Dan Crawford, with the Leagueof Conservation Voters. "There's no need to postpone it."

After the Feb 2 spill from the broken pipe at Duke's DanRiver Steam Station in Eden, DENR began looking at Duke's 14 facilities acrossthe state. DENR found the company never applied for or obtained permits todischarge storm water from six plants in addition to the Dan River site.

It's now slapped the company with violation notices, sayingit could be fined up to $25,000 a day for those violations.

But critics say DENR should have been doing thoseinspections years ago, and they say emails revealed those efforts were blocked.

"A lot of DENR staff had seen the problem, saying we'regetting industrial heavy metals coming out of this storm water," said attorneyFrank Holleman, with the Southern Environmental Law Center. "We need to do somethingabout it, but higher officials at DENR would not take action."

A DENR spokesman told WNCN it will try to backtrack to findout why past decision makers acted the way they did, but many of them are nolonger with the agency.

On Monday, the director of waste management for DENR, DexterMatthews, announced his retirement after 30 years of working in environmentaland public health protection.

In addition to being director of waste management, Matthewsalso sits on the internal coal ash task force "charged with assessing coalash basins statewide and developing procedures to prevent future environmentaldisasters at these facilities."

The task force was formed in response to the Feb. 2 coal ashspill at Duke Energy's Dan River facility in Eden.

Matthews said his plan "has always been to retire with30 years of service."

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Steve Sbraccia

Steve is an award-winning reporter for WNCN and former assistant professor. A seasoned professional, Steve is proud to call the Triangle home since 2005 after over two decades in Boston, Mass.  More>>

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