When Life Hands You Coal Ash

Thank you to Lisa Sorg for this great blog post "When life gives you coal ash, make coal ash art," on NC Policy Watch.

I had spoken with Lisa earlier in the fall about Duke Energy's recent release of the local inundation maps. Prior to Southern Environmental Law Center's lawsuit, local communities had to sign confidentiality agreements to receive the inundation maps. This was illegal. So once the maps were released, I was pretty horrified. No wonder Duke wanted to keep them a secret. 

The ash would reach the first home in 31 minutes from a break and spread all the way to Stoneville, thirty miles downstream. Unlike the Dan River Spill, which was completely contained in the Dan River, this spill would flood outside of the same river's banks, demolishing an estimated eighty-eight structures. The inundation maps are so large, because of the length of the expected spill. So it is hard to see exactly what will happen with the coal ash moving upstream to upper Old Town Road. Since lower Old Town Road will be inundated. How long will community members be trapped? And will the spill demolish the prized wetland sewer system and the electrical grid at the based of 2nd Street near Walnut Cove?

Brian Booe, Fire Marshall of Stokes County, went on to share that local community members need to keep three days worth of supplies on hand before expecting emergency relief to reach them. 

I was left with a lot of additional questions. 

So it was nice to have a more light-hearted conversation about meditation, art and hope in a particularly overwhelming situation. Thank you, Lisa. 

When we very first organized around coal ash as part of The Friends of St. Phillip's in late 2012, we were mainly concerned with what would happen during a flood. We would love to see evacuation signs posted and plans disseminated to #coalashneighbors. It is a dark, curvy, rural community. How would one see what they were driving into.

We pray that this will never come to pass. 

"When life gives you coal ash, make coal ash art," by Lisa SorgThe Progressive PulseNC Policy Watch, December 11, 2017.

"To get Duke Energy flood maps near coal ash basins, local governments had to sign confidentiality agreements," by Lisa SorgThe Progressive PulseNC Policy Watch, September 20, 2017.