Tom Reeder, who is charged with leading the NC Department of Environmental Quality’s (DEQ) coal ash management efforts, provided an overview of the state’s enforcement and cleanup actions since the Dan River coal ash spill in early 2014. Reeder told the audience that over the last several weeks DEQ has been holding public hearings across the state in those counties with coal ash facilities as part of the assessment and prioritization process that will guide the closure of each of the state’s 33 coal ash ponds. The final risk classifications will determine the timeline for closing each of the utility’s 33 coal ash ponds. According to the North Carolina Coal Ash Management Act, coal ash ponds designated as high-risk must be excavated and closed by December 2019; intermediate risk ponds must be excavated and closed by December 2024; and low-risk ponds must be closed by December 2029.
During the seminar Reeder stated that based on the comments and information received at the public hearings the draft classifications released in 2015 will likely undergo some changes when the final classifications are announced in a few weeks on May 18.
The Apr. 6 event, co-hosted by UNC’s Superfund Program and IE, is part of a series of seminars that invites speakers working in the nexus between issues of energy management, policy and technology, and environmental concerns. The seminar was held at the Gillings School of Global Public Health with Carolina students and faculty along with members of the public in attendance. A number of professors and graduate students at Carolina are engaged in water quality and drinking water research and the seminar was intended to inform the UNC community and also identify any issues where further research could provide assistance to those impacted communities.