Statement on the Coal Ash situation in North Carolina

OAK ISLAND, N.C. – State Representative Frank Iler (R-Brunswick) released the following statement regarding the Coal Ash situation in North Carolina today:

“Over the past few weeks we have heard continuous stories in the press about the coal ash pond situation in Eden at the Dan River, as well as the apparent pumping of coal ash-contaminated water into the Cape Fear River in Chatham County.  These incidents have suddenly brought a sense of urgency to clean-up plans that have been discussed for years.

“I, for one, am concerned about the Dan River spill, as a former resident of that beautiful area.  However, I am equally concerned about the Cape Fear River, as it is the source for drinking water in Brunswick County, the area I represent and in which I live.

“This situation did not develop over the past fourteen months since Governor McCrory took office; it has been an issue for at least three decades. Coal ash was being discussed in environmental committees in the state legislature when I arrived in 2009.  Apparently, the urgency wasn’t there under Governors Hunt, Easley and Perdue to solve the impending problem.  Blaming Governor McCrory for this is akin to blaming my recently-elected hometown council for trying to fix a sewer cost overrun problem that the previous councils incurred over the prior ten years.

“Now that we know that the problem has been around for years, the question is, ‘What to do about it?’  I am encouraged that the Department of Environment and Natural Resources has a task force that is focused on solutions to this ongoing problem.

“Everybody seems to suddenly be an expert on what should have been done — or are using the issue for political gain.  Many groups’ first reaction is to sue someone or use this tragic problem for fundraising purposes.  DENR and Duke Energy do not have that luxury; they are tasked with actually fixing the problem,

“I am encouraged that people with real solutions are coming forward.  One such group, located here in Brunswick County, has a geochemical solution to the problem. This company produces a geochemical compound that removes the toxins and the heavy metals in coal ash — with no negative residual effect to the environment.  Their compound has been proven in a previous situation, with EPA sanctioning, to neutralize arsenic, lead, mercury and other toxic wastes in coal ash.  They have been in touch with DENR and Duke, and we hope their solution is being considered.

“In the meantime, can we all look for solutions, not blame?  The blame game can backfire when one least expects it.”