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Who is responsible?

SoVaNow.com / February 26, 2014

Dear Viewpoint,

Who is responsible for the level of past pollution of the Dan River and now this recent toxic spill?

Week after week, month after month, Rep. Hurt repeats that he is fighting industrial regulation. He says it is the curse of all curses because in his simple minded point of view it only reduces jobs and increases costs. It is no secret that he opposes the EPA and all other industrial regulators and regulations. The Republican strategy has been number one, to give unlimited political and election funding powers to corporations to finance their political mouthpieces like Hurt (and destroy Democracy in the process) and number two, to sabotage regulatory agencies with funding cuts, watered down legislative bills, and appointing political thugs and ringers to these agencies to sabotage their operation. Now we have one more of many examples of the results of their treachery (talk to the people in West Virginia).

Even before this tragic spill we had been advised not to eat the fish from the Dan River or Kerr Lake more than twice a month (if you don’t mind Mercury, PCB, Cadmium, etc. in your body that is). The pollution of the Dan River is of course the result of industrial environmental carelessness, secret and even open dumping, unfettered by those evil regulators.

The coal ash pool at Eden, which the Duke spokesman at the 2/20/14 meeting in South Boston, says was “state of the art in 1950”, was and remains an open unlined simple ditch, 50 feet from the Dan River with one if not two corrugated metal pipes under this toxic acidic pool. These pipes, which now have been plugged, lead directly into the Dan River. So, for industry, “state of the art” means do it as cheaply as possible and the hell with the risks. Duke Energy has not seen the necessity to change that approach to waste management over the years they have owned these sites. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist now or back in 1950 (they didn’t know about rust in 1950?) to see this was a disaster waiting to happen. Simply put it was done this way because shipping the waste to an environmentally safe holding facility was too annoying, too costly and costs jobs (?). And of course there were none of those pesky regulators to force them to dispose of the waste appropriately. The result is a permanently poisoned River and Lake and a new toxic spill on top of that.

There is a bill before congress to declare coal ash a toxic material (another no brainer). This will give the EPA the power to force Duke to fix the situation at Eden and all the other ash pools sitting next to and probably leeching into our rivers. There is also the problem of the land locked ponds that are probably leeching into our groundwater and wells. I wonder how the Republicans will try to water down and destroy this bill and which way our illustrious Rep. Hurt will vote.

Alan Wolf, Clarksville

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