Environmental leaders criticize NCDEQ plan for coal ash disposal

WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - The North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality held a meeting Thursday seeking public feedback on coal ash disposal.

The public stakeholder meeting brought together environmental activists from across Southeastern North Carolina. Many were critical of the DEQ's process.

"The biggest issue is not giving the public enough time to look at these rules, not giving the public enough time to be part of these new proposed rules. This is a very, very rushed process," said Cape Fear Riverkeeper Kemp Burdette. "It seems to be very disorganized. I've heard conflicting answers, the presentation was a little difficult to understand at times."

The new rules are being drafted by DEQ to protect public health and the environment for when coal ash waste is disposed of and recycled. Coal ash is a waste product generated when coal is converted into electricity.

Attendees say the 90 page document containing the proposed rules was released just days ago, giving them little time to review them.

"I'm not sure that this does anymore to protect North Carolinians who are at risk from coal ash contamination," said Burdette. "I'm not sure this does any more to protect them and it may actually weaken protections for North Carolinans and you know, this is a serious problem."

People can comment on the drafted rules until March 22. Public comments can be sent by email to publiccomments@ncdenr.gov. You are asked to include CCR Rules in the subject line.

DEQ plans to present a final draft to the NC Environmental Management Commission in May followed by a 60-day formal public comment period in the summer.

A pdf version of the rules can be found here.

Copyright 2018 WECT. All rights reserved.