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Letters to the editor – Sunday – 9-4-16

Clean-up figures are misleading

The Aug. 24 story, “Court filing: $222.15 million to clean up coal ash in Rowan” repeated Duke Energy’s misleading and economically-irrelevant argument regarding cleanup costs. Any beginner’s textbook in finance teaches that when costs extend over multiple time periods, the only relevant summary figure is the net present value.

Duke’s own documents show that at Buck, the relevant cost cleanup number is $133.12 million, which is only 60 percent of the figure cited in the article. Similarly, for cleaning up all the coal ash ponds, the relevant figure is $2.60 billion, which is only 42 percent of the figure cited in the article.

The larger numbers repeatedly quoted by Duke Energy would be relevant only if all of the cleanup were to take place right now, rather than over the course of the many years the cleanup will require.

Electricity customers, neighbors of the coal-powered plants, and the general public all deserve to know the true economic costs of cleaning up the coal ash hazard that threatens our water and our health. That cost is far lower than the distorted and irrelevant costs that Duke Energy has put forward.

— Douglas J. Wakeman

Pittsboro

The writer is a retired Meredith College economics professor.

No ‘pollute in place’

The Aug. 24 story, “Court filing: $222.15 million to clean up coal ash in Rowan,” incorrectly stated that Duke Energy isn’t required to excavate the Buck ash ponds. That’s a matter that is currently pending before multiple courts in cases brought by Yadkin Riverkeeper and other citizen groups to force Duke Energy to clean up its coal ash mess.

When we talk about coal ash clean up there are two main options: there’s true clean up (by excavating the ash), and then there’s Duke Energy’s proposed cover up (also known as “cap in place” or “pollute in place”).

Excavation means taking the millions of tons of ash out of the unlined pits sandwiched between the Yadkin River and residential wells and either storing it in a lined landfill or recycling it, creating new jobs for the community in the process.

That’s what Yadkin Riverkeeper advocates for because it removes the source of contamination and protects the river and nearby families.

South Carolina is excavating all of their ash, and tests have shown arsenic levels around the excavated ash there dropping 60-90 percent  already.

Duke Energy doesn’t want a real clean up. They prefer “cap in place.”

What does that mean? They want to bury their ash right where it is, in an unlined, leaking pit next to the river and leave it there-forever.

Their own models show that if they were allowed to do that, the site would continue to contaminate the Yadkin River, High Rock Lake and surrounding groundwater for decades. That’s the true cost of capping in place.

— Will Scott

Winston-Salem

The writer is the Yadkin Riverkeeper.

Proud of Legion

Congratulations to the young men who played on the Rowan American Legion Team this summer. In many ways, you beat the odds and finished higher than any Rowan or Salisbury American Legion team in history.

More importantly, congratulations to you for your character, sportsmanship, determination and sacrifice while playing for the local fans. You did not play to simply showcase your talents, you played for your community.

May you always remember this season, and be proud of what you have accomplished while being directed and taught by dedicated coaches who shared their knowledge, time, and talents so you could perform at this high level.

I don’t know what the county or city may have planned for you, but it needs to be special. Your team had much more than just talent; you displayed the character traits that are necessary for any team to be truly successful. We are so very proud of you and your efforts. May the character traits you displayed always be part of you.

— Gordon Correll

Salisbury

Save Trading Ford

My fifth great-grandparents settled in the Yadkin Valley (Rowan County) in 1783. All of their ancestors have a deep affinity for your area. In addition I still have a number of cousins in Rowan, plus Davidson and Iredell counties, whom I visit every few years.

When we visit those relatives I truly feel I am at what should have been my “real home,” although I was born and raised in Indiana. I generally follow the news in and around the Yadkin Valley. This is especially true of Rowan County.

Preserving the precious historic heritage for our children and grandchildren is a mainstay of my life. The perpetual preservation of the Trading Ford Historic Area is truly fundamental to the cultural continuity of Rowan County.

But sometimes there are too many “fingers in the pie.” Thus I do not believe Mr. Gary Hauze’s competition with the proven successes of Trading Ford Historic District Preservation Association is productive. To paraphrase from the tile of a famous movie on World War II it is a “Museum to Far.”

— Jim Forcum

Beavercreek, Ohio

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