Lee County Commissioners Poised To Formally Oppose Duke Energy Coal Ash Plan

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Just weeks after the Chatham County Commissioners voted unanimously to oppose a Duke Energy plan that would store much of the North Carolina's toxic coal ash in Lee and Chatham Counties, the Lee County Commission appear likely to join them. In a meeting tonight in Sanford, the commissioners will vote on a resolution opposing the plan and it is expected to pass after weeks of discussion about their options. From the Sanford Herald article,

The Lee County Board of Commissioners is set to take formal action Monday against Duke Energy's plan to store up to 8 million tons of coal ash in Lee County in the coming years.

The board will vote on a resolution opposing this plan during its regular meeting, which begins at 4 p.m. Monday at the Lee County Government Center at 106 Hillcrest Drive in Sanford.

This action follows the Chatham County commissioners' approval of a similar resolution on Dec. 15. The Chatham County board voted unanimously to oppose the disposal of up to 12 million tons of coal ash in that county.

“I think we finally feel like we're at a place where we need to make as statement as far as the position we're taking,” Lee Commissioner Tim Sloan said.

Sloan said passing the resolution would let local residents know that the commissioners are against depositing coal ash in Lee County because of the negative stigma it could cause, which potentially could discourage new businesses from locating here.

Up until now, the board has been working with an attorney and an environmental engineer to determine how they want to respond, Commissioner Larry “Doc” Oldham said.

“We don't have a lot of room to move, but we are going to do what we can to protect the citizens here in Lee County and the property values here in Lee County,” he said.

According to the proposed resolution, the best way to dispose of coal ash is to leave the material at sites where the host counties have paid millions of dollars in taxes since Duke and Progress Energy placed energy generating facilities in their county.

Sloan and Oldham agreed the coal ash should remain in place rather than brought to Lee County. But Oldham said he also thought the coal ash could be reused in other projects, such as asphalt, concrete and road building projects.

“The problem wasn't created overnight,” Oldham said. “It's been 50 years in the making, and we are going to try to solve it in 12 months? I think we are going about it wrong.”


  1. Ed Abiard's avatar
    Ed Abiard
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    Have pity on us here in New Hanover County. We have a proposal from Duke/Progress to retain most of Dukes coal ash shipping only a small percentage of the coal ash to Lee Cointy and points North . The site for the proposed new covered coal ash repository here is right next to the Cape Fear River on prime industrial land. We are expanding water and sewer service to this industrial and commrrcial district. A big flood would pollute these businesses and the river. We need the businesses to employ the people we expect to move here. Lots of people. So quite literally take or coal ash, please.
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