WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - Local environmental leaders are talking about what they call "the most serious environmental problem facing our state today."
Representatives from the Cape Fear River Keeper, the Southern Environmental Law Center, and the NC Sierra Club hosted a public forum in downtown Wilmington on Monday night.
The purpose of the event was to answer questions and shed light on the state of coal ash in North Carolina and what they can do to keep our waters clean.
In February, nearly 40,000 tons of coal ash and 24 million gallons of waste water spilled into the Dan River near Eden, NC.
The spill at Duke Energy's Power Station was the third largest of its kind in US history.
Duke Energy Progress currently has more than 130 million tons of coal ash materials in retention ponds across the state, including 3 ponds at the recently retired Sutton Plant in New Hanover County.
Environmentalists expressed their concern that the wet coal ash pits, including those at the Sutton facility, could have a negative impact on our area and the Cape Fear River.
Leaders say the plants have illegally polluted groundwater for years.
Zachary Keith, with the NC Sierra Club says the problems come from "a failure of Duke Energy's management and maintenance."
All panelists agreed that legislative action is needed to stop the dangerous practice of coal ash storage altogether.
Environmentalists say they will continue to push lawmakers for legislative action and are urging the public to do the same.
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