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Ash issues are piling up

Dart to Duke Energy’s latest coal ash debacle — illegally dumping 61 million gallons of contaminated water from an ash pit into the Cape Fear River. This week’s revelations about the Cape Fear plant were the latest nasty development in the saga of Duke’s coal ash problems, which is both an environmental and public relations nightmare. According to state regulators, the illegal pumping into the Cape Fear River has been going on for months, which means it was occurring simultaneously with the Dan River spill that gave new urgency to the cleanup of these unlined retention ponds. The illegal pumping was initially discovered by the Waterkeeper Alliance, which took aerial photos. The Cape Fear violation is Duke’s eighth in less than a month — which can and should bring fines heavy enough to cause some real pain, not just a slap on the wrist for the nation’s largest electricity company.
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Laurels to the Arc of Rowan, celebrating six decades of advocacy for those with intellectual or developmental disabilities. The Arc’s mission perhaps isn’t as well known in the community as that of other United Way agencies, but it has performed an invaluable service in both improving the lives of the disabled and raising the community’s consciousness about their rights, needs and abilities. In an era of funding cuts and budget restrictions, it’s not easy to serve an ever-increasing clientele, but the Arc and other helping agencies continue to do truly heroic work in the face of these challenges.
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Dart to the IRS phone scam revealed this week that has bilked more than $1 million from thousands of taxpayers. If you get a call from someone purporting to be an IRS agent, claiming you owe taxes and demanding immediate payment — hang up. A phone call is not how the IRS operates. If there’s an issue with your taxes, the IRS will contact you via the mail — using an official envelope you probably won’t want to open. It won’t request payment via a wire transfer or prepaid debit card. The fact that this scam has been particularly successful — spreading to practically every state — doesn’t mean the con artists are particularly devious. More likely, it’s an indication of how easily intimidated most people are by the thought that the IRS is coming after them.

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