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Letters to the editor — Thursday (3-19-15)

There’s more to the story about Yadkin

I write to respond to the Post’s article “DENR results contradict Riverkeeper’s.” The headline overstates the case. DENR (the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources) said their results were inconclusive, and we appreciate that caution. More importantly, the article leaves out the explanation DENR officials gave for the seepage in the Yadkin floodplain — an unpermitted seep located by Duke’s coal ash impoundment.

The Riverkeeper’s Clean Water Act claims at Buck are simple: Any release of coal ash contaminants violates Duke’s permit. Any discharge to surface water via a seep that is not permitted is a violation. The seep upgradient from the sampling site that DENR mentions repeatedly in explaining their test results? Not permitted.

In the words of DENR, “due to the low lake level at the time, this floodplain seepage area [where samples were taken] lies hydraulically below a location identified as seep S-6 and discharge point 4-D in Duke’s Topographic Map.” In short, water flows from the seeps down to the floodplain.

DENR then states that Duke’s seep flowed “into the floodplain, turned east and ended up in a small pond that did not have a direct outlet to the river.” Now remember, this is at low water levels. What happens to those floodplain ponds when the river rises? We can’t say because we can’t access those floodplain ponds. DENR can.

If the last year has shown us anything, it’s that metals sitting in unlined ponds do not tend to stay there. Where do the contents of these floodplain ponds end up? We look forward to the results of Duke and DENR’s “more comprehensive evaluation.”

— Will Scott

Yadkin Riverkeeper

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