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Joint | September 23, 2015 | Press Room | Press Conference: Rep. Graham

Full MP3 Audio File

Good morning. Good morning. Let me say it's a pleasure to be here, I'm State Representative Charles Graham, I represent House District 47 which is Robertson in Lumberton North Carolina, and we have a group of folks who would like to speak on the issue of cold ash and the removal of coal ash. I think there's still many concerns out in our communities that are affected certainly in my district, which is the Weatherspoon Plant in Robinson County cleanup is a big concern. When the process begins, where's the dumping going to be, and where would that occur? There's a lot of concerns out there and we have several individuals here who would like to comment on the issue, and I would like to begin with Nick from NC Warren he's going to take the lead on this, and I certainly appreciate you being here. And hopefully we can have your questions answered, and the mission would be accomplished with our group here today, thank you for coming. Thank you Representative Graham for being here your strong support listening to community members, and helping us out with this room and standing with this group, at this historic moment we strive to find the best solutions and the best way together, around this coal ash problem, that is not of the people behind this creation welcome everyone to the Alliance for Carolinians Together Act Against Coal Ash, Act Against Coal Ash is a newly formed state-wide effort by residents of communities impacted by Duke Energy's coal ash, whether they're currently suffering from the toxic heavy metal laden ash or are targeted by we're here to announce today that we're statewide, unified, and here to stay and they're urgently calling upon Duke energy and North Carolina governmental decision makers including the general assembly, here the Department of Environment Natural Resources governor McRory and Duke Energy so Duke energy has been burning coal and creating toxic coal ash generation but until very recently most people who live near the toxic dumps didn't know that they had millions, upon millions the times of colasion[sp?] are back yard even if they knew that lot's of people around them were sick, but all this changed on February 2nd, Ground Hugs day of 2014, when are in the dam burst of the down river, and North Carolina and the world began to realize that they have a large, large problem. Since then, communities members like those you'll hear from the day, have been organizing and educating themselves and getting together to engage with local officials and participate democracy, and you'll hear more from them everyone speaking today other than myself is a community resident, is great concerns. And they want clean area and clean water, and they want to be part of the process, because they are the the real experts on collage[sp?] and we all need a partner to deal with this poor war problem and move on to a better future and a healthy communities for all of North Carolina. So without further ado I'm actually going to introduce all of our speakers at one so you can see who are you are going to be hearing from today and then let them take from here following that we are going to invite miss Carolina Niho from Blue street community up to say a prayer and hear a performance from our very own one song and then we'll open it up for questioning for all of you and again we thank you for coming. So our first speaker today it's going to be Mr. Bobby Jones of the Downies Coal ash Coalition in Goldsberg[sp?] North Carolina. Our second speaker will be Miss Tracy Edwards, of the Blues Key president for coal ash clan. Next will be Dan Colly, the environmental lead in North Carolina, and rounding us off will be the amazing Larry Mathias, from Belmont North Carolina living right next to what you are going to hear so much about so without further a do for me I want to turn it over to Mr. Bobby Jones to get us started. Thank you. Thank you good morning. Nick said my name is Bobby Jones I'm retired from the Department of Health and Human services for 30 years of service, and from Golzburol and Wayne county Duke energy's HF league plant and to millions and millions of tons of toxic coal ash full of know carcinogens like mercury, [xx] and Hexel Belond chromium and upon a water testing has found also 66 time the federal standard and water nearby and yes cancer is still the leading cause of death in our community as a matter of fact several members of our delegation could not be with us today because we initiated a coalition only seven months ago they've been

strict on with Cancer and we ask that you keep in your prayers. I thank God for alliance of coalition together against coal ash, the has that has reached the cross the state and join to form a bond and we are strong. We're demanding that our water, our environment and the lives of our citizens be put ahead corporate profits and greed. Governor McCorrey we invite you to contact communities and visit us, we need for you to show us that we are as important for you duke energy, but governor while you are in our community as of now if you value your health please don't drink the water. Members of our legislature we call on all of you to represent the people you elected to represent, not to hear the voices of the people, not the talk of money campaign. Money talks would talk in later commuter communities and check on us, but due to current coal ash poisons. We recommend that if you value you health, please don't drink the water. To the department of environment and natural resources we want to simply remind you that you have stewardship for preservation and protection of our natural resources and public health. Preservation protections of North Carolina and the citizens, natural resources and health not do energies come visit us, but if you value your health come [xx] The Alliance of Carolinian's together against coal ash, advice the governor, the legislature, Dino, and Duke energy to partner with us in working through this cold ass[sp?] problem, so all of us can enjoy the life sustainable resource, clean water together in closing I like to paraphrase Hebrews 13: 5 and 6, God remind us to keep our minds free from the love of money and be content with what we have Harm us he said he will never leave us or forsake us, so we can say with confidence I'm not afraid what can due energy do to us. We are getting stronger, and bigger everyday. Why? Because we love North Carolina and our lives kind of thank you. Good morning my name is Tracy Edwards and I'm speaking to you today on behalf of the residence of Stokes County, in Blue screen, Walnut Cove and the pine whole communities. We are here today fighting for our environmental justice. We have been exposed to pollutants, and toxins from Duke Energies coal fired plant for more that 40 years. It has taken a deadly toll on my community over the years. We want Duke Energy to do the right thing and clean it up. This actions are detrimental to our survival. My community, as well as other communities across the state that have coal fired plants in their backyards, are dealing with cancer clusters, people with neurological problems, respiratory problems that are leading to death of our families members in which we love. The public has been deceived into thinking it's safe to live near these site, in which they are clearly not, Duke Energy, Dina, Governor Pat McCrory, this is unacceptable. We are statewide and unified We want the toxic solutions, non-toxic solution to eliminate he threat of on-going contamination in our community. There`re so many people that I grew up with that have been diagnosed with different types of cancers strokes including myself. Respiratory issues within my

community surrounding that coal fire plant. The amounts of coal ash on either side of the road, on Fanho road, in which I live that are covered with grass. Duke energy has started an attempt to cover up was in toxins they are laying beneath that grass. A no cab in place is unacceptable. I fear this country sooner than later, will resemble a third world country being striped of our natural resources that we desperately need to survive. Like my daughter told me after one of our meetings. That we attended, mummy I am scared, and I asked her why? And she said because we need water to live. I would like to give due power, Dina and Governor Pat McCrory the statement that I came out with why can't power companies be smarter than a fifth grader? I'm really tired of going to funerals. I used to visit my mother daily. Now this is where I had to go to visit her, she died prematurely, she was only 64 years old. She grew up with asthma, she had neurological problems with her arm, and she had heart disease and we've lived in that area for all of our lives, thank you. I'm Dan Crolie[sp?] from North Carolina, I'm representing Lee and Chatham County, I live directly next to Duke energy's proposed toxic colash job not the mine recommendation  they claim it is, this communities are mixed race, residential, and agricultural communities, over 2000 people who live in a half mile of just the coal in site, including many children and elderly. We would all be in direct contact with ash flying from the coal ash mountains they proposed to put there, and the [xx] trains holding it in. I have gone to many farms in the area, I raise chicken, ducks, [xx] goats many donkeys, [xx] and horses as well as having a garden fruit, trees. My [xx] drink from a spring fed pond in creek, my pasture has pond sipping out from it, so if I have a spring, the springs is under their side. While they fill in the site which take years we wont be able to open my windows, sit outside or hang my cloths out to dry and it's not whether the lines will lick it's when faulting installation is driving over them rocks springs and gan water sipping up from underneath, plus the bacteria that will eat them, and there are many heavy rains that come through regularly, land sales in progress have already stopped these buyers backed out. Cancer health problems folks fix and skyrocketing health cost of what we have to look forward to. Who is going to pay for health care funerals inflamating[sp?] land values that we still have to pay taxes on, which they've gone up on our taxes. Toxic heavy metals will seep from these sites which is on the cate fuel river through aquifer and from the waste water treatment plant they want Sanford to treat it which they can't, and sledge bills where they don't. The sledge passes through contaminating drinking water and ground water from Stanford all the way back to Wellington. The ash will trash for the hundreds of miles per thousands of under regulated trains and trucks spreading it a long the roads and residential yards a long the way. This is a state wide problem. Once contaminated, you can never truly clean it up, living a worthless land as a scar for generations to come. There are better answers than moving and spreading the contamination around. One that example is saltification or encasing it in concrete on site. My retirement paradise next to Duke Energy and Charles' Limited Liability Company, Green Meadows is already becoming a toxic nightmare. We won't be included in decisions resulting in a safe outcome for everyone. Good morning, for so much to say, for so little time to say it. My name is Larry Masses, I live in Bear Mountain, North Carolina, near the Duke Allen Plant. I'm the president of the home owners association where I live. We bought our house in 2002 for the intention of living there for the rest of their lives. This is our home, our

water company [xx] five months ago we heard that people who live near the Duke Energy Ellen's Coal plant had received letters from the wells are contaminated and they should not be drinking the water or cooking with it. We had not received the letter and though we were far enough away to be safe. We pay for a water which we call retreated, tested and safe to drink, wrong. A water company [xx] sent as a letter saying that our water is safe. Wrong again. Our water had been tested by [xx] and learned that it wasn't safe. All water was found to have 38 times the state standard for vanadium. 26.8 time the standard for [xx] chromium. Access to research, I learnt that in 1996, for 10 months truckload after truckload of toxic coal ash to fill a ravine in our backyard. With 278, 412 tons of coal as let me say that again caller is in our back yard  and there's no line, the sub division started being built in 1999 May and as I first say it before, we bought our home in 2002 long after the coal ash was there. If only we had known what lay, the more I learned, the more concerns I have about health and safety. Our property values have suffered as well. Who wants to live in a place with contaminated water, contaminated land, and dirty air? Coal ash presents very serious this hazards for human health and environment, just a couple of weeks ago the study was published in the environmental science and technology showing that coal ash can be radioactive and have up to 10 times more radioactive material than the parent coal it comes from, it states the findings raise significant new concerns for the health and safety of communities living near coal ash disposals and reuse sites. It also states we now know the coal ash hewn very decades ago may still present very serious harzards to human health and the environment. So far the best that Duke can do is to provide us with some bottled water. But only for about two more months. Having cleared all the bottle water is bad enough, but try bathing in contaminated water, wash your clothes and dishes in contaminated water. Water we're having to pay for it they can do better. Duke says they're not responsible for the water being contaminated that have been a good neighbor of providing this bottled water. But good neighbors don't pollute and they take responsibilities for their actions. We're customers as well and along with others across the state pay billions of dollars to them every year and yet they say they aren't responsible how can we trust Duke Energy? Duke just settled a 15 year law suit with the EPA over violating federal clean air laws. By modifying coal fired powered generators, without required air pollution control equipment. They also agreed to plead guilty and pay 102 million dollars in fines for restitutions for nine criminal violations for the Federal Clean Water Act that was exposed after the Dam river disaster. Trust them? I think not. We did not create this problem. We did not ask for 278, 412  tonnes of toxic coal ash in our backyard. We did not ask for bad air quality, and serious health issues. And we did not ask for coal ashes to cover our home and our yard. We like everyone else in North Carolina, have a right to clean air and clean water. We have asked many questions and we've gotten no answers we want answers and we want actions. It's time for Duke energy to own up to its mistakes and step up to do the right thing only then will it be the good neighbor it needs to be.  Own up and step up. Together let's find the solution, and find it now. Thank you.

Thank you for those amazing powerful powerful speeches. So to recognize this sole occasion and  before trying to lighten it up at least a little bit I want to my Miss Kellan Omiho who grew up in the Blue street community that you have spoken about and she has got a prayer for us so. Thank you. Dear great and gracious God, we gather here to day in what is certainly a day for our nation, and our world as we face the uncertainty of the implications of climate change. Throughout the lands, we seek your wisdom and guide us on how to be good stewards of your gifts, and make the necessary changes to heal our broken world. Here in North Carolina as we transition into fall,  we  specifically ask for your guidance around coal ash, which has been carelessly handled for decades. We have paid the price in poor healthy, lost loved ones and consumed radio active water, air and land. God we ask that you hear our collective pleas as we desperately need your help. Dear God we are so grateful for your many benefits, including the benefits that we have received from the power of the generated electricity, but now we ask to put an end to the pollution of our natural resources an end to detrimental health issues and an end to environmental injustice that runs rampage through out our state. We stand here community if united together, seeking solutions that will not put another community at risk, but will instead be a great resting I think for you and our citizens. Lord, we know you are revealer of great secrets and mysteries. We ask today, Lord, that you you reveal any secrets that need to be unearthed to heal these broken places and prevent any further damage to our state through harvesting fossil fuel like cracking or off-shoe drilling. Lord we know that you are the great position and purifier. We ask today Lord that you will heal, all of those with known and unknown related health conditions and we ask that you purify our natural resources of air, land and water. Lord we know that you are the great leader. We ask today lord that you will guide us we stand together for environmental justice throughout our great day of North Carolina Finally God we believe that as God who sets miracles unfolding among us we stand here with open and expectant hearts for you surround us with hands of hope, justice and love we're forever grateful Amen. Thank you. If we'd just have a quick moment of silence to reflect and then as I said before we'll lighten it up again I bet. Thank you and thank you Caroline, for sharing that with us today. So, next and as soon as this is over you will be half an opportunity to talk to our wonderful speakers and interviewers we would like, but we're so privileged to be in a place where we have the Raging Grannies who can bring their spirit and their resilience and really state things in a way that they need to be stated and so without talking much more the amazing aging grannies. Thank you Nick, and I hope I don't disappoint you or the media but we are not here to lighten things up. There's no way to lighten up this travesty and this tragedy that Duke is imposing on us with their plan to track coal ash into our communities, and while we might sing our message it is no less serious than the message of the community members that you have had preceding us. [ BLANK ] [ BLANK ]

So I want to turn over to representative Graham again and then we will bring the speaker's backup. Thank you I just want to say to the group thank you for coming and obviously sharing your concerns, thank the press for being here, the media. I think you've heard several concerns raised certainly collases is a concern of mine, in my district I live nearby one of the ponds and I'm certainly concerned but the form used today is a way to have our citizens express their concern, I think they've done that very well I think you've done it with respect and I certainly thank you for coming, and this time we'll allow an opportunity for questions to the Speaker, thank you. Any questions? I don't know who this to be best addressed to, may be everybody here knows how the state has addressed the coal ash problem, they know, we know, they have come for the bill, we know the plan is going forward, why are you still asking questions? The timing of this really is something that I guess I don't know about as far as the timing is concerned something ever for two how is this going to change the course the state has already apparently entrenched it, it's on path how is this ever going to change that? Well just let me make a brief comment on it, I know this is a common issue a mini community meetings, how in the areas where the families will be affected, I think you are seeing the group come together now to present their concerns as an organised voice and I think what you are seeing now is a group's individual coming together we are concerned from the onset of this bill obviously and going through the legislative process question still remain with these individuals. Certain concerns are out there should we pass legislation it's on a path, but that does not mean that there are not questions that still remain within our communities, and this is certainly a form for them to express those concerns. So I think it's a way to allow our citizens to have a voice. Thank you. Follow them, with respect and it is one thing to voice concerns and it is another thing to call for change, and look for answers in actions and what we have heard is, the call for change. So, again, how do you turn the grievances we've that you've heard into action?

And I will read that going on. You're alright sorry I was a bit distracted there Senator I guess the question holds. How do you turn grievances into action?  Well I think that it takes time for people to come together and learn about the problems that they have and we have come together and incredibly powerful way and people are moving as quickly as they can to spread the work in their communities and we feel that by getting together we can ask any unified voice to be dealt with us as a whole, because this is a North Carolina problem and we need statewide solutions and thus far what we feel the true experts on coal ash, the people who live right there and are most directly impacted needs to be a part of that process. They need to be at the table, there needs to be some transparency and quite honestly every effort needs to be made for our decision makers to live up to what they said which is making North Carolina the most responsible state in the country and really in the world in dealing with this coal ash problem that has been so long in coming. And without community voices table to be heard directly by decision makers who were put in office to represent them and protect the interest of the people of the state. Now is the time and we're growing every day and this is a start and we expect to be talking with this folks together. I'm Sarah Carigah I work at Apple Watch and voices, have been working on the coal ash since before the Dan River spill, and to answer some other elements of your question, one thing to note is that the department of environment and natural resources has not decided on the prioritization of any of the site yet besides before that we had initially identified in the coal ash Management act, so you heard from Larry Mathews from Belma North Carlolina[sp?] plant Allen and also Tracy Edwards from belews creek for the belews creek power plant is those are two of the largest power plant they are both still active and Duke has not said anything yet about what they plan to do with the ash in order decisions have been made with that. There is the potential that they will just cut that ash in place, which will not protect ground water or the health of these communities, so right there is one opportunity, where everyone could listen and step up. Do we have any other questions from the media? Well I have [xx] what would be an acceptable solution? I heard that, something like about concretes and casements? What are you all looking for? Captain [xx] obviously of the hearing [xx]. So these group has come together and we do call for safe permanent solutions and the options that have been presented are not satisfactory by these standards. It's our position that the Duke energy has billion and billions of dollars that they have off of the people of North Carolina who have no choice, but to pay Duke energy, and they need to do everything they can to present options and use all the resources that are available in the standard time and include the people who are involved and tell people the truth about what's going on and what the options are, and people don't feel that that has been out there yet and I don't know if you. I think some dept to it. I'm Reverend Mark Leventen and I live in Charles district in Robison county and we have two coal ash ponds and actually because of our work. [xx] hand the mic please. Because of our work and the legislators work in Robison county, and working in partnership and communicating with him all along our plans were put on the list by Duke to be removed but we do not want another community to be a recipient to host a further burial that will be permanent and there are specific solutions, first of all and I've published speak to [xx] no I'm not speaking to the solutions, I'm not speaking to them. I published a piece in the fair observer's Sunday and the issue is there has been litigation in four different directions on this. Our state officials have recognized and affirmed, that they don't have all the answers. So this litigation and some of them are still in process, including the ones from the impacted communities, they have been targeted to host the new dump site in the county this allegation

is going to take time so what we are all saying from the impact of communities and this is usually not the voice from which you hear it it is let us take this time to come up with solutions the EPA in December it is publishing new regulations and recommendations on how to manage coal ash. Duke energy itself is studying this and have contracted with the private company to look at ways to manage, and that study is throughout in the middle of 2016, so what we are all asking for is the hold present plan, wait for EPA study, wait for Duke's own study to be finished and then look at all the options available. In South Carolina Duke is using other strategies methods to address this we don't know if those are safe or what we would want in North Carolina other countries are doing the same, so what we are saying is we as a state just did not take enough time to come up with the best solution and we do have time to do that so that's what we are recommending. I think we have a couple of our speakers who would like to say a couple of words. Yes I would like to say before anything just basic on the nature of the questions that you're asking, one of the thing that needs to be done is to provide some education unto the magnitude of this problem. How serious it is, how massive it is, how much it is destroying community. How many people are dying as a result of this. This is not something that we can drop a few million dollars and make some nice [xx] in a cool way. This is just strong as human [xx] so the first thing that needs to be done primary to anything else this education becomes, a lot of people just like you really don't have a grasp of the seriousness and the nature of this problem, and I've been to several community meetings, we met with the state we've met with, one of them. They promised they would answer all of our question. They wouldn't stay after the meeting to answer. Two answer about two questions to respond to it and I asked him, what about all that [xx] behind it? How comes that's not even on your mouth that you show? What are you going to do about it? The guy sat down left and then he saying to answer any more questions and haven't been to any more meetings. The last meeting I went to I asked several questions and the director of the Health Department said I can't answer any of those. Said all the questions you'e asked concerning all of this covers all of it. But we have no answer for you. The last part we're trying to come together because one voice you can hear but you get a majority and this is not just one small little area. This is statewide. All of these wells that they've been testing we had over 200 wealth [xx] in our area. That's several hundred people. This is families, this is children. We're talking something serious about people's health and the environment. And that's why we're coming together, so our voice can be heard, not just in the local places. I just want to pick up on what he just said. This events day gives the communities from all over the state to express their concern. As I said earlier, I've been in meetings with my local constituents back home in Robinson County, I had my concerns my constituents concerns and my county. I've not heard from the folks that you're hearing from today, so this forum give an opportunity for people to share their concerns and their frustrations, question us, a good question we've gone through legislation there is a plan in place but does that mean that these citizens are satisfied or does it mean they're content? It does not obviously, so this give them an opportunity to do what we do best in this country is have democracy and this an opportunity for that to happen and perhaps have an opportunity to speak and I think that has happened today and if there is no any other questions, if we are having to cut question we try to answer those and certainly appreciate everyone being here today and being a part of this. It does clearly indicate there are still concerns out there and we will get them resolved today, no Sir this was not an intent for this meeting, but it was an attempt to give the media and give these individuals

a form to express their concerns and to share their message. Any other questions? Hi, I'm Sue Sturgis with the Institute for Southern Studies, and I was wondering what will the next steps be for the coalition concretely? What do you plan to do? And if there are people out there who are interested, how might they get involved? Let Nick handle that, if you want to do that Nick. If you have a house, you got to fix the place. [xx] Well, the next steps are to continue to meet, we had a gathering in late July with over 100 people in attendance from all over the state. So this group is a lot larger than what you're seeing here, the same delegates represented. And the goal of that was to come up with our commonalities, our common goals across all these different areas that are dealing with coercion different ways. And we were very successful in doing that so, our next step will be to share those unifying principles with everyone so that all of these decision makers in Duke Energy have something very concrete to look at, to check themselves on whether or not a solution is actually going to meet the community standards, [xx] will continue meeting and if you would like to get involved, you can find us on Facebook Act Against Coal Ash and there are groups in many different counties across this state, so we're you're located and I will encourage you to check it out and see if you're near upon and can help join those residents for [xx] meetings with some [xx] right there, in Fremont they have regular meetings Charlotte right there, there's plenty of. Lee and Chatham Let me make one thing clear, Representative Reives, who represents Lee and Chatham counties could not be here, he was out of town, this was organized in the first part of this week and he was out of town, could not be here and I know he has some concerns about Lee and Chatham counties being had selected besides for the removal coal ash, I just want to make that clear, thank you. Any other questions? Thank you for coming and I want to thank the group and hope everyone has a happy thank you for being here.