I am so intrigued by this new play equipment known as the “Crab Trap.” It holds 40 to 50 kids at once. It’s woven format reminds me of local legend Gypsy Hollingsworth, who was a world-class weaver. Perhaps this piece is a great option for an outdoor play opportunity in Walnut Cove.
DEQ hosted a Q&A information session at Belews Creek on January 10th, 2019. It was the first of six sessions of the remaining sites with undetermined closure plans. While we had a powerful press conference ahead of the hearing and a great turn-out, many of the community members felt frustrated with DEQ’s format.
In speaking with community members since the meeting, they have used phrases including “staged chaos,” “no sense of order,” and a “shell game.” Community members were directed to visit tables about specific topics related to the coal ash basin. Instead of being able to answer questions, they were directed to another table and numerous questions went unanswered. One resident was so frustrated that she asked to have her name removed from DEQ’s list. The DEQ register apologized for the event “being so brutal.”
The format of these sessions at the Marshall Hearing one week later. The gym was at capacity of the Lake Norman school gym and residents were turned away. When Holman directed community members to go to the tables, they refused. The crowd was able to ask questions and have them answered from the floor. Precisely the way that Belews Creek community expected the event to take place. Residents were asked their opinion regarding each of the three formats - cap-in-place, hybrid, or excavation. The excavation received a resounding yes.
So the work is on the community to continue to collect these comments through the February 15th period. It is also important not to overlook the Water Discharge and Special Order of Consent Permit, which closes tomorrow, January 25th.
The Lilies Project is hosting a series of fun events to collect more comments over the next two weeks. Residents for Coal Ash Cleanup is also hosting another information session at the Walnut Cove Public Library so that residents will be able to have their questions answered by Southern Environmental Law Center and Appalachian Voices about the specific plans. We will be collecting comments, as well. A more formalized hearing will be held in early April, which will allow the community to publicly speak to DEQ. But we want to make sure that we are loud and clear before that point that we demand full excavation of the coal ash to safe, lined landfills that already exist on Duke’s property.
Following are points concerning Duke’s Final Closure Plan at Belews Creek provided by SELC.
DEQ: PLEASE REQUIRE DUKE ENERGY TO MOVE ITS COAL ASH AT BELEWS CREEK TO DRY, LINED STORAGE AWAY FROM OUR WATERWAYS
• DEQ should require Duke Energy to remove its coal ash from its leaking, unlined pit and move it to dry lined storage away from our Belews Lake and the Dan River and out of our groundwater.
• Duke Energy plans to leave its coal ash sitting in the groundwater at Belews Creek, where it will keep polluting our groundwater, lakes, and rivers. Recent monitoring shows Duke Energy is polluting the groundwater surrounding Belews Creek with toxic and radioactive materials. We need cleanup—not coverup!
• The community has come out time after time over the last several years, making clear that we’re concerned about pollution from Duke Energy’s coal ash and want Duke Energy to get its coal ash out of its unlined, leaking pits. It is long past time for DEQ and Duke Energy to listen.
• Duke Energy is already required to remove its coal ash at eight other sites in North Carolina and all of its sites in South Carolina, and the governor of Virginia recently called for all the coal ash to be removed from Dominion’s unlined sites—our families and our community deserve the same protections.
• Duke Energy already has dry, lined ash storage on its property, or has said it could build a new landfill to hold ash removed from its leaking pond. Ash will not travel through the Walnut Cove community or to other communities.
• Duke Energy can excavate all the ash from its leaking Belews Creek pond and move it to dry, lined storage on its property without one truck carrying ash through the community.
• Duke cannot exaggerate traffic concerns while downplaying the community’s real concern: Duke Energy’s water pollution.
• Duke Energy’s own experts know that even cap in place will involve trucking construction materials to the site—just like any other construction project. But even under their estimates, cap in place would have the biggest impact to daily average truck traffic on community roads—a 12% increase compared to 11% for the “hybrid” option and 9% for excavation.
• It is past time for DEQ to listen to the community—not Duke Energy’s consultants— about what our community needs. We need Duke to clean up its coal ash and stop the water pollution.
TELL DEQ WHAT YOU THINK IN WRITING
E-mail DEQ at email@example.com or submit your feedback online at https://selc.link/2GQOp4U.
Prepared by the Southern Environmental Law Center
DEQ is seeking public feedback on a proposed draft special order by consent for Duke Energy’s Belews Creek Steam Station, as well as a draft wastewater permit modification for the Stokes County facility. The public comment period will run through Jan. 25, 2019.
The draft order, draft modified permit and related documents are available online at: https://bit.ly/2LkIF4K. This DEQ document talks about submitting comments.
Talking points from Southern Environmental Law Center:
Send one email to firstname.lastname@example.org with Subject Line “Belews Creek Permit”
The draft Belews Creek NPDES Permit fails to adequately protect the surrounding lake and rivers.
Despite the history of pollution at this plant, the permit’s limits on toxic water pollution are in many cases weaker than in previous drafts.
The permit does not require a “physical/chemical treatment system” for ash pond dewatering, unlike the systems already being used at Duke’s Riverbend and Sutton plants.
The permit delays compliance with stricter federal pollution limits, which should be imposed later this year but the draft permit delays until late 2020.
The permit fails to minimize the harm to fish and aquatic life in Belews Lake as a result of its outdated water intake structure and its discharge of superheated wastewater.
The permit should be improved to fully limit pollution from the Belews Creek facility, as required by the Clean Water Act.
2. Send second email to email@example.com with Subject Line “Belews Creek SOC.”
The SOC acknowledges that Duke’s discharge into Little Belews Creek violates the Clean Water Act, but would allow the discharge to continue until Duke builds a new pipeline to discharge directly into the Dan River.
The proposed SOC admits that the plant has been polluting Little Belews Creek for over three decades.
Despite this fact, the SOC concludes that neither DEQ nor Duke has done anything wrong.
DEQ should rectify over 30 years of unlawful pollution of Little Belews Creek by stopping it, not allowing it to continue.
Without the aid of Wikipedia, I am going to guess the ET came out in the Summer of 1982. The reason for my guess is because The 1983 Gymnastics Show made that a central theme to the May performance.
Thanks to the Walnut Cove Public Library for keeping bound editions of all the past Danbury Reporters available with easy access. I only made it through a couple of years during my last visit to the library. There was no coverage for 1987, the final year of the show. But I intend to go through the complete archives before the Reunion Event.
See you there!
The Christmas Holidays are quickly approaching and we are getting read for a celebration. We have several videos from the 8os that we are hoping to share with everyone at the reunion. If you have a video, it is not too late to copy them. We would love as thorough collection as possible.
As part of the reunion, we will be selecting a date for a Spring Performance and recruiting for the event. Would you like to recreate your skit from 1983? Do you believe your child can do it better? Are you a fan of a local dance team or gymnastics troupe that will perform?
We will also be filming stories shared at the reunion and creating a mini-documentary that we will share at the Spring Event. Plus we will have dancing, art and fun! Can’t wait to see you after the all of the chaos of Christmas is complete.
This month, The Lilies Project is launching new monthly series at the Walnut Cove Public Library. The purpose of the workshops are two fold: to build community and to figure out what we are going to build. The main art concept I’ve worked on this fall gave me literal sticker shock. So we are starting over and figuring out what we would like to create into art out of coal ash together.
Each month we will do a different activity, but around the same theme of visioning and a community build.
The events will be held mid-month on Mondays at 11 am. This allows a pop-in with the preschoolers at 10 am and a chance to eat lunch with anyone open after the event. And you don’t even have to make anything if you don’t want. Come join in on a time of uplifting community.
December will focus on using sheet music to create some Christmas Creations. This ties in with the window display of Jester Hairston’s Christmas Spirituals in the Rutledge & Rutledge office windows. We will have hymnals to repurpose and models of different paper sculptures you can create.
I am a huge fan of creating vision boards and make a year-long vision board for the last several years. You can check out videos for 2018 and 2017 here. And 2016 and 2015 on my blog, which I have failed to update since 2017. We will be creating a smaller vision board on anything you want. I will have heavy boards, magazines, glue sticks, and scissors on hand. Bring images you want to include on your own.
Stemming off the Celebrating Courage event, we will explore John L. Hairston’s contribution to building Walnut Cove and the area through his efforts with the Yadkin Valley Economic Development District, Inc. The art activity is not yet determined, but we will remember others who have helped develop our community and brainstorm new ideas.
This monthly series will be held at the Walnut Cove Public Library. The purpose is to make art, discuss what you would like for the final installation of The Lilies Project and to hang out with our neighbors. Maybe even make new friends.
This is a very free flow event that will focus on both building community and what we will build as a community.
Materials provided. All events are free and open to the public.
This week NC Department of Environmental Quality accepted comments on the updating of the state’s CCR Rules. Many members of our ACT group shared their own stories with the state agency. Following are the comments that I submitted:
To Whom It May Concern:
I am writing in regards to preventing potential changes of the CCR Rules.
I am an advocate for coal ash, specifically related to my home community of Belews Creek. However I stand united with all fourteen locations in North Carolina who house coal ash, including the site of coal ash landfills in Lee and Chatham Counties. Belews Creek is the home of 20 million tons of coal ash. Over eight million tons are in a capped-in-place mountain that has already been proven to have failed and created a large arsenic plume off of Old Plantation Road. We know that capping-in-place does not work. It should not be considered by DEQ as a solution that serves anyone other than Duke Energy.
After Florence, we all see the future for coal ash in landfills in our state. Three different types of landfills failed. At Sutton, we witnessed the failure of a new lined landfill. At Lee, we saw the failure of a classic, unlined landfill awaiting closure. And at Brickhaven, we saw the failure of a mine reclamation landfill. None of these solutions are viable as we face climate change and can expect more frequent storms with greater strength. Yet we know that in South Carolina, the state was able to clean up all of the sites under budget and under timeframes. The groundwater immediately improved.
Therefore, I am asking for the following:
• Do not allow Duke to Cap-In-Place
• Keep the coal ash on Duke-owned property, and not dumped on other communities
• Support storing ash in a dry, lined system that can be reused in encapsulated products to rebuild our failing infrastructure
• Do not interfere with citizens’ rights to hold Duke legally accountable for its coal ash pollution.
Through the work of NC A&T State University, we have technology available to that will encapsulate the coal ash in a solid form so that we no longer have to worry about getting the ash into our bodies through the air and water. We need to use these storms as reason to push forward on this strategy. By reconsidering the coal ash as a valuable raw material instead of a waste that DEQ and Duke continues to ignore, we can use the encapsulated coal ash for rebuilding our much needed infrastructure.
The UN’s report on Climate Change presents a dire urgency to actually address this issues and move beyond the political pressure of Duke and focusing on their bottom line. All of our lives are at stake. North Carolina has the opportunity to holistically solve this problem that plagues not only our state, but the entire country.
By using a crop like hemp, we can plant in impacted areas that will draw the heavy metals out of the ground. That plant can then be used to create the polymer binding agent for encapsulation. Therefore the remains of the plants containing the heavy metals will be encapsulated in with the loose ash. It provides a new crop for local farmers and additional jobs for coal ash impacted communities. While the ash needs to be dried, it does not need to be reburned with a lower discharge than the STAR system by SEFA. This technology is much more environmentally sound than solutions currently being put forth.
Instead of denying claims of coal ash failure at every storm, let’s imagine a near future where these sites are cleaned up and technology surpassed expectations. In the end, Duke will continue to profit off of this solution as well. But it requires having DEQ demand that they choose a different way. The current landfill options fail and will continue to fail time and time again. Why would you professionally subject yourselves to ongoing pressure? Now is the time to clean it up and ensure a better tomorrow by upholding our CCR Rules to the highest of standards that can serve as a model throughout the country.
This past May, Dr. Sanjay Gupta visited some of our community members to discuss the health impacts they have been facing over the last several decades. We were eager to see the report.
The video was released in late July after the announcement of Trump's new head of the EPA and Scott Pruitt's replacement, Andrew Wheeler. Wheeler was a coal lobbyist and has already put in place new federal rules that remove groundwater monitoring around any coal ash ponds that do not have off-site contamination. Groundwater causes the pollutants to continuously move. Even if there is no contamination at this point in time, the toxins will likely spread in the near future.
A more detailed story including the voices of additional Belews Creek residents is also found online.
Remembering The Last Time I Heard And Sang The London High School Song
Written By David E. Hairston, Jr.
It was 1968. I was in the third grade and Principal John L. Hairston called for all classes to report to the gym. It was close to the end of the school year and the last year of what we all knew as London High School. Yes, this was the end of segregated schools in Stokes County. Principal Hairston informed each age group the new school they would be attending the next year and answered any question. In closing, Principal Hairston asked all of the cheerleaders to come forward and lead us all in the school song one last time. We all stood and sang at the top of our lungs one last time the song of a school we dearly loved.
London School Song
O Dear London High School,
we love thy dear name, and to all the world,
we sing of thy fame,
How dear to our hearts are the days we spent here,
Oh Dear Alma Mater, we give thee a cheer.
High above the green valley our walls ever stand,
Ever true to our school, we will walk hand and hand,
O Dear London High,
Our Praises we sing, and to All the world,
let our honor now ring.
London High School Cheer
Everywhere we go, people want to know who we are, so we tell them:
We are the Mighty, Mighty Lions, The mighty, Mighty Lions!
King of the Jungle, The Mighty, Mighty Jungle!