Ladies and Gentlemen if you would take your seats, we're going to begin our meeting, we've only got an hour and a half so we've got a lot to get through in an hour and a half. So if the Sgt. at arms would close the doors, all committee members take their seats and we'll begin. Okay let's see we've got Senate Ag, Sgt. at arms… we've got… I want to represent… introduce them, we've got Ernie Shirl[SP]. Ernie where are you? Wherever you are anyway I appreciate you being here. Donald Blake if you would… thank you Donald. Steve McKay… Guiles Jeffrey… okay, Isaac Walker… and Billy Fritzer… Billy thank you. Thank you all for being here we've got a rather pushed agenda. I've got one other group of folks which I dread announcing their names cause I can hardly read them and to where I certainly going to have a difficult time pronouncing them. We've got one sponsor, Sen. Barefoot and I think this is Ada, Ada are you here? Okay Ada thank you for being here, I appreciate it. Sen. Clark from Fayetteville… and this is Ms… I guess this is Ms. Knight? Wherever you are… okay good thank you for being here. Sen. Dan Blue, we've got a page from Riley Jasmine… Jasmine where you… okay thank you. Y'all stand up so I can see you? Sen. Bryant from Weldon… Harry O Harris… Harold where are you? Okay good, thank you for being here. Sen. Berger from Raleigh, Gerald Wilder, okay Gerald thank you for being you here. Brent Jackson, Nick Williams… alright good thank you Nick. Let's see… Shirley Randleman[SP]… State Rudd[SP]… Victoria, is that correct? Is that correct? All right good, thank you. Jeff Tart, Raleigh… Mary Scott Wilson, I think… that's correct. Okay good, thank you. Sen. Hise from Marion… Aaron McKinney… Aaron are you… alright thank you Aaron. And… Sen. Goolsby, Patrick Sugg… Patrick where are you? Okay thank you Patrick. I appreciate you being here and hope you have an entertaining time, better than we're going to have, but anyway we're looking forward to this. What we've done, since we only have an hour and a half… Secretary scrubology… we hope that you and your staff can complete your presentation in an hour, would that be suitable? Okay so if if you would, I'm sorry… 9:30, yes 9:30 to 10:30. So an hour. So if you want to come and make introductory remarks, or whatever you wish. Okay sure, and I cut you… I give you an extra… we've only got 9:30 to 10… I hope that's… I know that's not much time, but… [SPEAKER CHANGES] I know you have rearranged this for my schedule a couple of times, and I appreciate that very much, and I know the time was shortened so we will… we will compress. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Thank you sir. Mr. Secretary, I want announce that everyone here… that we have a sign-up sheet in the back, and 10 o'clock will be the cutoff time because we're going to try to… we got session at 11, and were going to try to conclude this, so… sorry to interrupt Mr. Secretary, so if you would go right ahead. Were going to try to stay on this schedule, and that'll be 9:30 to 10 will be secretary and staff and then 10 to 10:30 the committee and then 10:30 to 11, were going to allow for public comment. Okay? Thank you. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Thank you Sen.. Please let me introduce my subject matter experts I have brought with me today, Tracy Davis from D.E.M.L.R., Linda Culpepper from Solid Waste… and Tom Reeder from Water Resources… they will all be talking to you also about particular portions of the governors, what I call 'roadmap'. I hope you didn't watch TV this morning because at five o'clock I saw a report…
It said the, that this hearing was gonna take place and that the governor’s road map did 2 things that require the closing of three coal ash ponds and left the others in place. And that’s just not correct. What the governor’s road map does is several things very definitively. One, it’s specific. The state of North Carolina is in charge of this process, no one else. Number 2, it's flexible and that science and engineering is gonna determine what decisions are made for these thirty three coal ash ponds with 106 million tons of coal ash in the state of North Carolina at fourteen facilities. And three, it's workable and what do I mean by workable? I’m on the energy policy council and we had a presentation last week by someone in the nuclear energy field. And the question was posed, how long does it take to build a nuclear plant, and the answer was forty six years. And the response was how could that be, everyone’s of the impression it takes 20 years to build a nuclear plant. And the response was yes if you submit a plant to the nuclear regulatory commission and you stick absolutely within the confines of that plan and make no deviation, it takes 46 years. But unfortunately, the practical reality of the plan when combined with the practical reality of actually building a facility you can't stick necessarily to the plan as presented. The theory and the practical don't match up. So all we've tried to do is create a blue print that's workable knowing full well that we've got thirty three ponds and 106 million tons of coal ash to deal with just in the due projects. Last but not least, this plan protects the environment. We have broken it down into three primary areas. The first is dam safety and Tracy will discuss dam safety in a little bit more detail but in essence, if you remember correctly in 2008 there was a massive spill in Kingston, Tennessee where 1.1 billion tons of coal ash leaked from a dam breach into the town. This spill at Dam river is somewhere between 35 and 39 million tons versus 1.1 billion. In 2009 the state of North Carolina transferred dam safety from public utilities to [DENER] and there were some loopholes left in that transfer. And Tracy will talk about this a little bit more specifically but basically our blue print closed those loopholes. The second thing we address is water resources, we have shortened timelines for notification and more importantly we have created absolute timelines for assessment, monitoring and correction of ground water and surface water discharges. And this is very important because it set ways to the third section of the governor's blue print and that is conversion or closure of all these coal ash ponds. We create the authority to convert or remove all of the coal ash. We create a preferred solution and that is moving all of the coal ash away from drinking water sources. Then we also set a priority for the timelines and four have already been designated. [Riverbend] and [shorlet], [Ashford], [Sutton] and [Wilmington] and [Darn] River. And most importantly we close the loopholes for disposition and some of you might recall something called [adores] permit. But disposition or removal of residual solids, there's been a lot of talk about the fact that it's easier to sight a land fill for coal ash then it is to sight a land fill for a banana peel in this state. That's true
This ?? permit goes back to 1994, as best I can tell, but was renewed in 2009. Kinston was in 2008. Transfer from public utilities to ?? for dam safety was in 2009, and I guess one of the questions I have is, where was the outrage in 2009 when the state of North Carolina still allowed the creation of a landfill for coal ash to be easier than a landfill for a banana peel? Lastly, we create new positions specifically addressing coal ash. 19 new positions, we requested, and they will be specifically dedicated to the creation of the solution to these problems, including the science and engineering. Last but not least, a question has been posed of me many times as to why we associated the EPA for at least the surface water solution to the Dan River problem, and candidly, we associated the EPA for several reasons. One is that there were two states involved – multijurisdictional issues with Virginia. Two, the EPA had a lot of experience with Kinston – 1.1 billion tons. And quite frankly three, the EPA has validated everything ?? has done to date. The EPA has put in writing the fact that this is going to be a case by case solution to this problem, that one size is not going to fit all, and there’s been a lot of rhetoric about ?? having blocked certain citizens’ groups in addressing the coal ash problem, which we addressed in the first 75 days of the administration, long before Dan River happened. And I talked to the EPA one day and they said “You know, there’s been an attempt to get the EPA to block ?? action on the coal ash problem, way back last March,” and I said “What’s that all about?” and he kind of laughed and said “Politics.” Obviously they did not block ?? because according to them, ?? has done it right and ?? will continue to do it right, but I can tell you assuredly, the Governor’s blueprint is not about politics. It’s about doing the right thing for the citizens of North Carolina, it’s about protecting the environment, and it’s about creating the specificity, the flexibility and the workability to get this done. We addressed this last March, we’ve continued to address it, and the Governor provides a very solid blueprint to solve this problem that has been building up over the last 100 years in this state. So as for the specifics on each of each of the areas, I’m going to ask Tracy Davis to come up and he’s going to talk about the dam safety aspects of our proposal. Thank you. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Thank you, Mr. Secretary. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Thank you Mr. Chairman, committee members. My name is Tracy Davis. I’m the Director of the Division of Energy, Mineral and Land Resources, and I appreciate the opportunity to speak before you today about the components of this proposed bill as it relates to our division. We regulate dam safety, erosion and sedimentation control and storm water with respect to these facilities, so we’ll be touching on those parts of the bill that relate to those areas. The first section of the bill which relates to dam safety is part 4 on page 7, and this is a repeal of that session law, 2009 390, which was what the Secretary mentioned earlier, was the statute that transferred obligations or responsibility for these coal ash impoundments from the Utilities Commission to our division under the Dam Safety Act. As part of that transfer, we were prohibited from requiring copies of documents for all existing facilities and operations of existing facilities, so this repeal would give us the ability now to go back and get those documents from the Utilities for any existing coal ash impoundments – engineering drawings, calculations, inspec…
And so forth. So we see that as a very positive thing for us to get information on how these were constructed and their maintenance. Also under part five, emergency action plans, this is a provision by statute to require emergency action plans for all high hazard and intermediate hazard dams across the state. Not just coal ash but all dams in those categories. Right now we require emergency action plans for dam safety for only high hazard dams as a permit condition, and we utilize a rule in the statute that broadly mentions that the dam shall protect the downstream public and it shall not cause impacts to the public health and safety and the environment. So we have a permit condition that requires emergency action plans. This statute would allow us to specifically require those emergency plans and actually defines what has to be in those as a minimum to make sure we get what we need to ensure that any hazards are identified with the dam structure, that there's a notification tree for downstream public, that there's inundation mapping to show where if the dam was removed, just taken away, where would that empilement go as far as flood levels and so forth downstream, so we would know who would be impacted potentially and worse case scenario and be able to address that as an emergency response. And those have to be submitted by January 1, 2015. And by statute, we'd have some enforcement provisions to enforce that if those didn't come in on time and if they weren't renewed annually to update any information. The next section is notification for emergency repair of dams. This applies again to all dams, not just coal ash dams but it requires that there be a notification to the department when there's a need to do emergency repairs on any given dam within 24 hours of them identifying the need to do so. Right now the statute just says that they need to start the repairs but they notify the department forthwith or I guess when they have opportunity to let us know. But now it's within 24 hours. Also in part seven, inspection of empilements. This legislates the operator of utility dams to inspect their dams weekly for certain deterioration, to look for deterioration of any of the features of the dam, the spillway structure, any additional seeps or enlargement of any existing seeps on the embankment, deterioration of their spillway pipes and so forth, so it legislates that they do those weekly inspections, if they find deficiencies they're to get a licensed engineer to review those deficiencies and determine if there's a corrective action needed, and then submit that to the department for review and approval. They'd also be required to submit or have an annual inspection by a third party professional engineer to investigate, to look at the dam thoroughly, to document their findings. Again if there was any deficiencies noted, they would prepare a plan for corrective action and repair the dam, that we would review and approve. The next section that would pertain to our programs would be the part ten coal combustion products empilement enclosure. There's two components to that. One's for to protect ground water and surface water. Tom Reeder will probably talk about this in more detail but parts of this relate obviously to the storm water permitting aspect that comes out of our division so we'll be looking at the storm water permitting enclosure plans, also ?? control, measures for anything that will disturb anything more than one acre, and if it involves the dam embankment itself, require dam safety modifications to dam safety permit. So the real key would be the closure requirements are on page 14 under section 10B. That's specifically the closure requirements for exempting a coal ash empilement from the dam safety act. So the only way they would be able to remove these dam safety structures from our program would be to submit a request to decommission the dam. That would be a scope of work of a geo-technical investigation of how they would test the embankment structure as well as material that's being held behind the embankment structure. Basically to demonstrate that it would not be flowable. So if you took the dam away, they would have to have geo-technical engineering and science based information to show that that material is not going to slump or flow beyond that footprint of that dam so that we could call that no longer a dam. It would be a stable situation before we'd ever decide to decommission that dam. And it has provisions on how that process would unfold as far as our review of the scope of work. The work would be conducted, they'd submit that geo-technical report, we would review it, we'd be looking to see that besides this liquid factor, we'd also be looking to see if there was any chance of the empilement of water on any part of the empilement area, to make sure
... not an area that could be continue to be saturated and maybe be able to flow. In those cases, they’d have to modify their dam safety permit to breach the dam in those particular areas to provide basically a cut through the dam with a permanent spillway of a riprap and liners to allow the flow of water to naturally flow out of the impoundment into the natural environment, and that would require approval from dam safety before we would allow them to go through the last step of the decommissioning process. So as the Secretary mentioned, there is under part 11 the closure schedule, where the primary facilities of concern are mentioned and there’s a timeframe for them to submit these closure plans and begin that process so we can look at the engineering and science within each of those facilities of what’s the best procedure for closure and what permit requirements and regulations would be applicable, and part 10, the appropriation of the 19 positions, just so you know, 7 of those 19 would come to our division, 5 of those would be in the dam safety program for reviewing these emergency action plans, administering that program, making sure that they’re submitted on time. , following up with folks if they’re not, training folks to do the emergency action plans, going out to the sites and reviewing those and doing some tests, drills and so forth, with the operators, make sure they know what to do in the case of emergencies, and also for permit review and inspections and compliance activities for all the existing coal ash facilities until we can get them all decommissioned and closed out. Also, two positions would be allocated to the storm water program. One’s an administrative assistant and one is a permit review engineer that we can use to do the current permitting that we’re underway with for the existing situation, and also they’ll be looking at any permit modifications or new permits that might be required as part of the movement to close these operations out. So that’s essentially it for the dam safety, erosion control and storm water programs. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Mr. Davis, thank you very much. If you’ll just stand by, we’ll probably have some questions from committee member, but I think we have two other speakers. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Mr. Chair? I’m Tom Reeder, the Director of the Division of Water Resources, and I’m going to tell you how I think the Governor’s plan, the Governor’s blueprint, aggressively and comprehensively protects the most important part of this whole plan, which is the state’s water resources, which are really at the biggest threat from the coal ash problem. Now if you’re going to comprehensively address water resource protection in North Carolina, you have to do three things. You have to protect the groundwater – we know the groundwater’s at threat; you have to take care of these unpermitted seeps and toe drains, these unpermitted surface discharges; and then you have to come up with some kind of closure plan or conversion plan to make sure we don’t have a Dan River in the future. So I think the Governor’s plan, I feel very strongly that the Governor’s plan does all these things, and I’m going to go through each one of these three components very quickly and tell you what it does. Let’s talk about groundwater first. We’ve all heard about how the groundwater round these facilities has become contaminated, right? Well 45 days after this bill is enacted, Duke has to submit a plan to assess the groundwater impacts at all their facilities. 180 days after DWR approves that plan, Duke must submit a report detailing all groundwater exceedances associated with their facilities. 270 days after the approval of that plan, Duke has to submit a corrective action plan showing how they’re going to remediate those groundwater exceedances. And so basically what you have is you have a problem that’s been maybe 70, 80, 100 years in the making, we’ve got all this groundwater pollution, but this plan in about a year – a little bit over a year – will come up with a comprehensive solution to assess those problems at all 14 facilities and then come up with a plan to remediate those problems. I don’t think you can ask for much more than that. Again, this problem’s 70, 80 years in the making. We’re going to try and address the groundwater problem in just a little bit over a year under this Governor’s blueprint. Also, one other thing about groundwater you should know. Everybody says “Well what if it’s contaminating private wells?” Everybody’s concerned about offsite contamination. Within 60 days after the enactment of this bill, Duke has to complete a receptor survey – go out and sample all wells within a half a mile of their facilities, and for any wells that have been impacted, they have to provide an alternate source of water. So to me, that takes care of the groundwater problem. Let’s talk about the next problem: unpermitted surface discharges. These are the seeps you hear about – the seeps that come out of the toe of the dam, or these toe drains that aren’t permitted – these engineered toe drains that aren’t permitted. 90 days after the enactment of this bill, Duke has to submit a map detailing all toe drains, and provide comprehensive information about these drains. 30 days after the approval of their plan, they have to begin…
A sampling and analysis of all these toe drains and all 14 facilities. 180 days after enactment of the bill, Duke has to submit a map detailing all the seeps. So, we already addressed the toe drains, now within six months they have to address the seeps along with comprehensive information about these seeps. 180 days after enactment of the bill, again six months after enactment of the bill, Duke has to submit a plan to determine whether any toe drain or seep discharges are reaching surface waters and whether they're causing water quality violations. So, it's six months after this bill gets enacted, they have to go out, sample all these seeps, all these toe drains, determine if they're reaching surface waters and then figure out if they're causing water quality violations. So then, what are we gonna do after that? Well, after that if DWR determines that these standards are being violated, then Duke is then responsible to come up with a plan to either stop the discharge, treat it with some form of best management practice that will remove the chemical constituents, or to incorporate their permit into their federal NDPES permit if it is of a de minimis nature and we are able to do that without violating water quality standards. So again, again, and they also have to continually and the future continually inspect for new seeps and discharges and incorporate those into the plan. So again, a problem that's been 70 to 80 years in the making in just a little bit over a year will be addressed. We'll address all these surface discharges that aren't permitted now. We'll either remediate 'em, we'll put 'em in their permit, or Duke's gonna stop 'em, again, in one year. Now let's talk about the crown jewel of this whole thing, which is the closure plan. Lot of talk about closure, of course. These things have to be closed or converted, or they could cause potential problems in the future. You're just gonna keep having these problems over and over again. So, what this bill says, is that the department, like the Secretary said, "The department's drivin' the train here." The department will establish the priority for the closure of all active and inactive ash ponds, all 33 of these facilities in the state. Once we do that, Duke has to submit a schedule of how they're gonna close all these impoundments in a timeframe that's acceptable to the department. 180 days after closure is scheduled to begin at any of these facilities, they have to submit a comprehensive closure plan. I'm not gonna go to the details to that. It's a very long, technical laid out in the bill. But I just wanna tell 'ya, we spent, this thing was not put together on the fly, these closure plans. DWQ before they merged with DWR, spent about a year puttin' this closure plan together because they knew this was comin' down the pike. They had a multigroup state quota process. They made contact with other states that were already doin' this, found out what went wrong, what went right in those states, and they put together this comprehensive closure plan process. And I just wanna tell you some of the things that are in this closure plan. Descriptions and site maps, hydrologic, geological, chemical and geotechnical investigations, modeling. They have to talk about what closure method they're gonna use. Remember, one size does not fit all. You just can't say, "We're gonna do this for all 33 ponds in North Carolina." You have to select the best solution based on the science and engineering and the threat to the public health and the enviroment in North Carolina. They could remove the coalesce. They may be able to cap it in place, if it's a low threat site. They could do a hybrid of those two things, cap or removal. Or, they could do some other method that they may develop or come up with that we don't even know about now. As long as that method will be as protective of the water quality as these first two things, the removal or the cap in place. And then, they have to have a post-closure plan where they're gonna maintain this for at least 30 years. So again, we've removed this threat from North Carolina. We've capped these things, we've closed these things, we've removed this ash. What ever it is, at the end of the day, North Carolina's water resources are gonna be protected. And as the Secretary in State Tracy said, "We're attacking the Big 4 right off the bat." Everybody knows that Riverbend, Ashville, Dan River and Sutton are probably the worst in the state, right now. If this bill is enacted, Duke has to submit a closure plan for Riverbend in 60 days. They have to submit a closure plan for Ashville in 60 days. Two months after the bill is enacted they have to have closure plans for two of their bad four facilities. 90 days after the bill is enacted, they have to submit a closure plan for Dan River and Sutton. So, within three months after the enactment of this bill, they have to submit closure plans for four sites in North Carolina. The four sites that everybody's concerned about. I wanna give you a comparison. Everybody's always talkin' about, "Well, South Carolina's ahead of us on this. You know, they're already doin' this." What South Carolina is doin' is they're closin' two sites in South Carolina. And they're givin' them, they're givin' their utilities down there 10 to 12 years to close those sites. Two sites, 10 to 12 years to close those sites. This pl-[RECORDING ENDS]
Much more expeditious than that. It's much more aggressive than their plan. It's much more comprehensive. It will protect North Carolina's water quality into the future for future generations. It provides a comprehensive protection the state's water resources need. And it also provides us with the flexibility. Because remember these first four things. We've never done these things before in North Carolina. So these first four closures are like a pilot test. It's like sending a man to the moon, but not quite as glamorous I guess. But these first four things are like a pilot test. We've never done this before. We're going to learn a lot of lessons from doing these first four sites, the ones everyone's concerned about. And we're going to translate these lessons into the closure of future sites on a schedule that we determine, not Duke. So I'm very confident in this bill. I feel very good about it. And I can tell you from my professional opinion, if we do this, we will certainly protect North Carolina's water resources in the future. Thank you very much. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Thank you, Mr. Reeder. I'm glad to hear that we've got a crown jewel here today. Secondly Tom did you grow up in New York City? [SPEAKER CHANGES] No sir, Cincinnati, Ohio. [SPEAKER CHANGES] I hear you. Anyway, I don't have to worry about you. You don't need to expedite any of them but anyway thank you Tom. Do we have another presenter? Okay. I'm sorry. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Thank you, Mr. Chairman and committee members. My name is Linda Culpepper, and I'm the director of the division of waste management and I'm going to be talking with you about solid waste definition and also the moratorium on the structural fills. The current state law exempts coal combustion products removed from empilements from being a solid waste. And in part 8 of section 8, within the governor's coal ash action plan, it includes a change so that the coal ash removed from the empilements that has a discharge permit is a solid waste. The department finds that consistency with the environmental standards should apply to these coal ash products removed from the empilements for the management or disposal in coal combustion products managed or disposed of as a solid waste. Section 8B includes a clarification so that the definitions in 138 and 143 are consistent. Then if you look in section 9 of the governor's coal ash action plan, it specifically addresses the structural fills. Those are defined as engineering fills with a projected beneficial end use and constructed using coal combustion byproducts that are properly placed and compacted. The federal EPA is under consent agreed to come out this December for coal ash combustion products to bring some consistency. It's going to do consistency for these structural fills as well as land fills. Right now this temporary moratorium in part 9 would apply to structural fills that are 5000 cubic yards or greater. In summary, the governor's coal ash action plan provides consistency to the implementation of coal ash management across the state, and also it changes the definition of solid waste and temporary moratorium on the structural fills. Thank you and I cannot talk as fast as he did. [SPEAKER CHANGES] You did very well. Thank you very much. What we're going to do, we're running a little over time but not very much. We'll allow 20 minutes for questions from the committee members, and then we've got public comments. We're going to allow 3 minutes each for those, we have 7 people who have signed up. So first, let's go with committee members. If you have any questions, we've got a lot of expertise over here. Mr. Secretary, does that conclude your? Okay. Senator Tucker. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I certainly am the sponsor of this. I've got a couple questions here that I don't know that are related but certainly someone with the secretary or staff, does any of this language in here, which it says coal ash, will it have any adverse effect on dams that are used for hydro, for generating power? And I'll assume the answer would be no, is that correct? [SPEAKER CHANGES] If you would, Mr. Tucker, let me [SPEAKER CHANGES] I'm sorry. [SPEAKER CHANGES] It's okay. Yeah, if Mr. Davis, go ahead. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Thank you, Mr. Chair. Yes, you're correct. We don't regulat the hydro dams. Those are under ??? Federal, yes sir. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Did you have another question? [SPEAKER CHANGES] Yes sir, a follow up. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Go right ahead. [SPEAKER CHANGES] These four closures that we're talking about, how does that impact the ability of Duke to be able to generate power? Are they all mothballed out at the present time? I'm not sure that's the case. [SPEAKER CHANGES] That'd probably be a better question for the Duke folks. That's something they're going to have to address in their closure plan about how they can operate around the closure of their ash pond going to dry
That type of thing. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Okay Senator Tucker, you want me to see if I can get an answer from someone here in the audience? [SPEAKER CHANGES] Yes sir. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Would someone here, Mr. Secretary is there someone you would know that could answer that question? [SPEAKER CHANGES] I can get it later, Mr. Chairman. ?? respond or whomever. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Excuse me, I believe Mr. Davis is correct. That would form part of the closure plan that they are required to submit to us on the time frame given in the road map. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Just a couple follow ups. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Okay we're very limited for time but go ahead Senator Tucker. [SPEAKER CHANGES] I understand, I'll talk slow then. [SPEAKER CHANGES] No, speed up, please. [SPEAKER CHANGES] These four plants of closure. Are there any requirements in here that Duke would move the coal ash and put in liners which would eliminate the possibility of any seep in the future? I know it'd be expensive for Duke but I mean, it seems to me a remedy. I know it talks about liners, if they're present. But could they take the coal ash and move it and be able to put liners in? And also, just one more statement, ?? Cooper, you're aware that there are private companies that will come in and build plants to handle coal ash and then sell it to the concrete industry. That's going on right now, dealing with the exact same problem you folks are dealing with. Are they being considered? I know it's any and all of these above, but that seems like to put coal ash in the highways and have it encased and never be a pollutant problem again seems like a way you'd want to go. And I conclude with that, sir. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Thank you, Senator Tucker. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Senator, we are looking at all of those options. The four you've referred to will go into lime landfills. But we're looking at everything from concrete to drywall to road to airports. There are even some permitted facilities out of state that will take coal ash in an unlined facility. We're exploring all of those. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Mr. Chairman, thank you. Currently the concrete industry in North Carolina imports coal ash for the concrete industry from Maryland. We don't use any from North Carolina. [SPEAKER CHANGES] I had heard that before also. That's a very good point, thank you Senator Tucker. Let's see, we have Senator Brock. You had a question. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Thank you, Mr. Chairman. This is directed to Secretary ?? You mentioned the spill up in Tennessee. Can you tell me how many tons that was in Tennessee again? [SPEAKER CHANGES] 1.1 billion. [SPEAKER CHANGES] And what, follow up, Mr. Chairman. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Certainly, go ahead, sir. [SPEAKER CHANGES] And what was the spill up at ?? River? [SPEAKER CHANGES] 35 to 39 million. It's about, Tennessee was about 250 times greater. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Just a follow up. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Certainly. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Secretary ?? I thought I read a report that it was between 35 and 39 thousand. Can we get a clarification on that and make sure we see what the actual spill was at ?? River? [SPEAKER CHANGES] It was thousand, I misspoke. [SPEAKER CHANGES] 35 thousand, not 35 million. Yeah, that is a big difference. So thank you for the clarification. Thank you. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Okay, Senator Ford. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Just on that last exchange, for me personally I don't respectfully speaking Senator Brock, any spill of any magnitude is important, especially when it comes to our drinking water. So we can argue about numbers but I think the overriding factor here should be safety. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Mr. Chairman and maybe the administration can answer this question. Other than as I look here in the proposed legislation, airport runways and the sub base for concrete or asphalt for paved roads, under what other circumstance would the administration allow Duke to leave coal ash in place without a liner and without ground water monitoring? [SPEAKER CHANGES] Okay, I'm sorry I was talking to someone. Do you want me to answer or was this a comment, or what? I'm sorry. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Sir that was, Mr. Chairman that was a question. [SPEAKER CHANGES] And who would answer this? [SPEAKER CHANGES] The answer is none. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Thank you, Mr. Chairman. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Thank you. Okay, Senator Hartsell. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Thank you Mr. Chairman, I apologize for being tardy. I have three questions
Questions. One of which has already been answered I think to some extent and that is, what's the extent of plans for looking at re-use of these. Is there anything in this plan that relates to that? [SPEAKER] Beneficial uses is an integral part of this plan. [SPEAKER] OK, did you have another question sir? [SPEAKER] I have 2 more questions. One and this is probably to Mr. Reeder. You identified 4 specific closure plans to be completed in a short period of time. My question is what happens if the plan is not completed and submitted to you in that period of time? [SPEAKER] Well that's a very good question. If it was in the legislation, we would begin taking an enforcement action against Duke. [SPEAKER] Does that answer your question Senator Hartsell? Probably not. [SPEAKER] It sounds like a lawyer's answer, but that's OK. [SPEAKER] That's what I thought. It sounded like your answer Senator Hartsell. [SPEAKER] That's pretty much the only recourse we have Senator, when people don't comply to our regulations or requirements under the statues. We take enforcement actions against them. That's the only thing we can do. [SPEAKER] OK. And actually the 2nd question, the last question is related to it. Are there any, do you anticipate the adoption of any rules associated with any of this? [SPEAKER] OK. I think. [SPEAKER] What I would say about that Senator is that if we want to do this in the most expeditious way possible, we don't want to go through rule making because that is a 3 to 5 year process. We want to get this in the statute and move forward with this as quickly as possible. [SPEAKER] OK that's your limit Senator Hartsell. Senator Bryan. [SPEAKER] Mr. Chairman, I had 2 questions. One is, I was trying to determine if there are any time frames on the closure on the 4 priority sites in the statute. I couldn't find anything. Am I missing something? That's my first question. [SPEAKER] Mr. Secretary. [SPEAKER] That will be dictated by the closure plans. [SPEAKER] OK. Did you have a followup? [SPEAKER] Yes. Who will control that time table. [SPEAKER] DENR. [SPEAKER] OK. One more question. [SPEAKER] Certainly, go ahead. [SPEAKER] How do we regulate the existing structural. I read that there are the structural field sites and sort of coal ash landfills around the state aside from Duke's sites. Do we regulate those sites and how is that managed? [SPEAKER] Mr. Secretary. [SPEAKER] The definition of, the solid waste definition will encompass all of that. [SPEAKER] OK. We have several other members that want to ask questions. Senator Walters. [SPEAKER] Thank you Mr. Chair. Mr. Reeder spoke about the 4 big plants that are targeted expeditionary, I think is the word he used, there are several plants that already moth-balled in the state and hopefully we would address them and they would not get pushed to the back. And what's the plan for these facilities that have been moth-balled? [SPEAKER] OK. Mr. Secretary is that? [SPEAKER] They will be prioritized after the first 4. That was part of Mr. Reeder's presentation is we'll determine a priority based on the engineering and the signs. [SPEAKER] OK. Do you have a follow up? [SPEAKER] Please Mr. Chair. [SPEAKER] Certainly. [SPEAKER] I would just caution these moth-balled plants. We just don't need them sitting around and get behind the big 4 and we have plants that are just sitting there unattended now. [SPEAKER] 3 of the 4 we're talking are already moth-balled, so you're exactly right senator. [SPEAKER] OK. Senator Rabin. [SPEAKER] Yes. Thank you. It's a good job on the bill and all the work, but as I recall, one of the big issues during the the spill was the lack of notification time. And I'm wondering if 24 hours after finding out that something has spilled is really a very expeditious notification time. I don't know what the hang up is in terms of our emergency network or communications, but 24 hours after the spill could mean 36 which is in the ball park of where we were last time that caused a lot of consternation on a lot of people's part. I think maybe we could re-look at that. I can't imagine with communications like they are, that it would take 24 hours after finding something that the department get notified unless we're all asleep. [SPEAKER] I understand.
?? -Senator, the language says "as soon as possible, no later than 24 hours." [SPEAKER CHANGES] Okay. [SPEAKER CHANGES] So we agree with you fully. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Okay, okay, thank you, okay. Senator McLaurin. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Thank you Mr. Chair. Secretary Skvarla, just following up on Senator Walters' comments about the other locations and I understand we're going to do some testing, but is there any reason why we can't be doing that testing now? In the area, the groundwater around the other locations, do we have to wait for the legislation to actually be approved before we go ahead and do that? [SPEAKER CHANGES] Mr. Secretary, you will respond to that. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Well, we're hoping the legislation is forthcoming, but we've already started that. We assembled- well we've been doing it continuously, but there's certainly been a task force in place since the Dan River spill, so we've already begun the process. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Follow up, Mr. Chair? [SPEAKER CHANGES] Okay, certainly. Just- I guess my point there is there may be problematic issues out there that we're just not aware of yet. You've said there are four that everyone seems to know are the priority, but maybe there are actually some that we don't know about that are- should be priorities. And I guess that's the point that I wanted to try to make, so I think the sooner we do that testing at those locations the better of we are, and then the only other thing I would just comment on is the term "flexible" I think is problematic in terms of- as we move forward on this. I think the public, the people we represent, the people we serve here in the legislature, across the state of North Carolina, they want to see some specific time tables. And I know you've got some there, but that term flexibility is- I know you have- I've written a lot of business plans in my day, with action plans, Secretary Skvarla, I've never been able to get away with saying I'll get something done in three to five years so I just comment- I think that as we move forward with this, we've got to be specific about our intention and the time table and that's just for comment. Thank you. [SPEAKER CHANGES] ?? Mr. Secretary, do you want to respond to that at all? [SPEAKER CHANGES] No, Senator. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Okay. Let's see, Senator Allran. Sorry about jumping you, Senator Allran. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I was intrigued by some of the earlier conversation and just wondered if we could be given a reason for why the North Carolina concrete industry would by coal ash from Maryland, if, in case that's factual, what the reason would be for that, and can that be reversed so that they would do what we would probably think from a common sense standpoint would be obvious, and that would be use up ours. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Certainly. Very good question. Mr. Secretary, did you want to respond to that? [SPEAKER CHANGES] Well, sophomorically I'll respond. As I understand it, it's the type and the quality of the coal ash, because we have been focused on air quality, it creates a different caliber of coal ash than they're buying from out of state, but then again I'm not the scientist, I'm not the expert. But I understand there is a difference. (pause) [SPEAKER CHANGES] Alright- if I could just- Mr. Chairman, [SPEAKER CHANGES] Oh certainly, go ahead. [SPEAKER CHANGES] I have heard that- I've been told that there was a scientific for it. I was just wondering though, if that could be corrected and reversed. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Okay, Mr. Secretary... [SPEAKER CHANGES] We can get back to you, Senator, on that. Again, I'm not the scientist on that one but I understand there is a qualitative difference. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Okay, I'm- I was under the impression that dry ash is presently being used, is that- is there any- did you want to comment? [SPEAKER CHANGES] We understand some of its, yes. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Okay. Alright we're pushed for time now, and so I think we've- if I've missed anybody that had a question -- Okay, Senator Rightman. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Not a question, just a quick comment. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Okay, sir. [SPEAKER CHANGES] I still stand on the idea that twenty-four hours- within twenty-four hours, is too much time. I can't conceive of it taking that long, I don't know why we're giving that kind of a cushion, I think it should change. Thank you. [SPEAKER CHANGES] ?? [SPEAKER CHANGES] Okay, we have seven folks who have signed up to speak, now that we've concluded our questions and comments in committee we've got our first speaker and a Sergeant-at-arms, we're going to allow three minutes per speaker and so if you would help us with that, so they could know- and the- our first speaker is, it looks like Cassie Garvin from Sierra Club. (recording ends)
Good morning. Thank you, Chairman. It's Cassie Gavin with the North Carolina Chapter of the Sierra Club. Thank you so much for the opportunity to comment today. The Sierra Club has over fifty-five thousand members and supporters in the State of North Carolina, who are very concerned about coal ash cleanup, so we're excited and glad that the Senate is addressing this issue.The Governor's plan has been referenced as a starting point for the Senate and we appreciate the strong statements that we've heard from Senate leaders in support of a coal ash cleanup, though as you know, the public outcry for addressing this issue arose when thirty-nine thousand tons of coal ash spilled into the Dan River in Rockingham County, February 2nd. That spill, the third largest coal ash spill ever in the United States, put a spotlight on the threat that has been lurking for decades. The Senate is now in a position to lead on this issue, and lead the State towards a comprehensive cleanup plan that addresses all the coal ash ponds in the whole State. Duke Energy operates fourteen facilities in North Carolina that have leaky unlined coal ash pits located next to rivers and lakes. 1.5 million North Carolinians rely on the drinking water that comes from the sources downstream from these coal ash ponds, so we appreciate that the Governor's plan moves forward by improving public notice, by requiring emergency action plans, bringing wet coal ash under solid waste laws, and identifying four plants where the ash would be removed to lie in storage. Now that the Senate is in a unique position to improve upon that plan, we would love to see the Senate move forward with a piece of legislation that addresses all of the coal ash ponds that meet the high expectation that the public has on this issue. Some key areas that the Governor's plan does not address are the future of coal ash handling, date certain for removal of ash, and closure of all the ponds, prioritizing and providing effective standards for closure of all sites. So first, we're counting on you to prevent the problem from getting worse. Wet coal ash disposal should be phased out completely. And second, any good plan must have a timetable with fixed dates to close out all of the coal ash ponds and remove the ash to line the storage away from waterways. We appreciate that Senator Apodaca especially has shown leadership and indicated that the Senate Bill will include an aggressive timetable for closure of all the ponds. Third, the Senate should provide criteria to DENR for prioritizing the closure of coal ash ponds. The sites that pose the most immediate threat to our waterways should be closed first, and moving coal ash from unlined pits to lined storage will greatly reduce water contamination. The State should allow alternatives only if Duke Energy can show that those alternatives can be just as effective in protecting water supplies as removing the source of contamination, which is the ash. So, thank you so much for your time. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Thank you Cassie. We appreciate you coming and speaking. Our next speaker is Anna Jane Joyner from Western North Carolina Alliance. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Hi. Thank you for having me here today. Thank you Secretary for your presentation. My name is Anna Jane Joyner. I'm a long time resident of the State of North Carolina. My parents moved here from Mississippi when I was two. I live in Charlotte for a few years, then moved up to Roxboro, where I graduated from high school, went to Chapel Hill for college, and I've lived the greater part of the past six years in Black Mountain, North Carolina. These days I work for the Western North Carolina Alliance, which is a regional environmental non-profit that serves the twenty-three western counties of North Carolina. I also work with a group called Western North Carolina Green Congregations. My dad is a pastor down in Charlotte these days, so I grew up in the Christian faith. We work with about forty churches everywhere from Black Mountain, Asheville, Henderson County, Madison County, down to Marion area. Quite a few clergy and congregations here are passionate about good stewards of God's creation, and specifically here in North Carolina dealing with this very egregious water pollution caused by coal ash. Of course, in Asheville we are one of the four most egregious sites, so the Western North Carolina Alliance has been involved in this issue for the past four to five years when one of our staff members discovered the initial pollution happening into the groundwater in the French Broad River. We are very grateful that we are high on the list for getting cleaned up because it is egregious. We're also a high hazard site, so were there to be a Kingston type of spill, it would spill over I-26 into the French Broad River, and likely cause loss of life. So the sooner we can get it cleaned up and protected, the better. So thank you for being very pro-active on that site.
Our concern, we also have Cliffside in our region, and we just as North Carolinian citizens want to make sure that all of these 14 sites and 33 ponds across the state get cleaned up and get adequate and equal protections in place, and I would love to see more information from this plan addressing all of the sites and not just the top four. Current legislation requires Duke Energy to clean up the source of groundwater pollution, which in this case is coal ash, and move it, get rid of it. That’s what current law states now, so we’re in the situations where capping it and leaving it, that’s actually a rollback from current state law, so we are very passionate about making sure that is not an outcome of this piece of legislation. That would actually be a rollback from what we have now. So thank you very much for your time and I hope you all have a wonderful day, and I’m really excited about North Carolina working to address this issue. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Thank you very much, Anna, and ?? it gets you into UNC, but anyway, we appreciate having you here, and Mr. Secretary, if I may impose on you just a minute, Mr. Secretary? They had mentioned some type of timetable. Is there a website or anything you can go to? Everyone here, I’m sure they’ll be interested in knowing what sort of the future… Is there somewhere we could, for everyone in the room, could get more information as we move alone with this process? [SPEAKER CHANGES] We can certainly put together a timeline on the website, absolutely. [SPEAKER CHANGES] That would be great. Thank you very much. We have our next speaker, Mary… anyway. I think it’s… is that Asbill? [SPEAKER CHANGES] It is. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Okay, good. If you would introduce yourself, tell us who you’re with for our minutes. [SPEAKER CHANGES] I will. It’s a really long name. I’m Mary Maclean Asbill with the Southern Environmental Law Center, which is also another really long name. Thank you for allowing me to speak today, and I just want to start off by saying I’m so thankful that this Senate is working on this important issue for our state. I really appreciate all the great questions from the members today, and I know I’ve talked to many of you individually, and I know that ya’ll are passionate about this issue and are working really hard on it, and I appreciate that. We also applaud the strong statements that you’ve all made to your constituents and to the paper, like Senator Apodaca and Senator Berger, stating that you will put a timetable in place and you will require full cleanup of all 14 plants and keep North Carolina citizens out of harm’s way. I’d like to make a few suggestions on improvements to the Governor’s Bill, and I’ll be quick. As Anna Jane noted, current law gives the state authority to order immediate removal of the source of the contamination, and the Governor’s bill actually weakens that law. I encourage this Senate to make its bill at least as strong as existing law. The Governor’s bill calls for a lot of studies and reports and plans on information that ?? already has. I urge the Senate to set hard and fast deadlines for the actual closure of the pits and full removal of all the ash. The Governor’s bill does not contain structural fill standards. There is a structural fill moratorium in the Governor’s bill, which we appreciate, but we need standards about what structural fill is appropriate and what is not. Those are direly needed, and I’m hopeful that the Senate will address those. And lastly, the Governor’s bill doesn’t provide for public comment on all of the closure plans. I think that would be a really important element of a Senate bill and I ask that you include that too. Again, thank you so much for your leadership on this issue. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Thank you very much. Appreciate you taking the time to come and speak. Our next speaker is Henry Batten from Concrete Supply Company. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Good morning, Mr. Chairman. I’m Henry Batten. I’m President of Concrete Supply Company, headquartered in Charlotte, North Carolina. I’ll give you a little size of our organization. We have about 650 employees, and I buy roughly 150 to 200 tons of fly ash a year, and I’m presently buying fly ash from four states outside of North Carolina: Maryland, one gentleman mentioned, West Virginia, Georgia and South Carolina. The EPA has come out and publicly stated that concrete is the preferred and highest and best use for fly ash – not a pond, not another pond. In the economy today, North Carolina, the ready-mix industry’s consumed…
About 600,000 tons of ash, the annual run rate in this state is about a million two so there’s a 600,000 potential shortfall. Now my numbers don’t include the consumption by the gypsum wallboard folks or the block industry so it’s not as bad as 600,000 but back in 08, 7, 8 and 9, or 6, 7 and 8 we were consuming, as a concrete industry, almost 900,000 tons. So we can get to three fourths of the consumption just in ready mix, and if the state will adopt a couple of sensible solutions you could consume virtually all this ash that’s produced, and get to the real solution which is ultimately reclaiming these ponds. The beneficial use of ash to the state and the citizens of the state come in two forms; that’s infrastructure construction and vertical construction, building construction. In infrastructure it’s roads, the interstate system, the local roads, DOT would adopt a concrete, local concrete road standard, you could have concrete roads that lasted 40 years much like they have in Charlotte, and then bridges. There’s roughly 3% of the lane miles in the state are concrete roads. There’s more dirt roads in this state than concrete. And the last is buildings. You can go vertical structures, con ready mix concrete could put flyash and consume flyash in virtually every single building and the benefit is, it is 100% encapsulated. There is no harm to the environment, to a person, or anybody. And I’ll end with this, I’ll listen to the secretary’s comments, and I’m a business guy, the things that concern me about his comments is they’re going to do closure, move away and they’re going to prioritize it. Where are they going to move it? I’m sitting here telling you that the industry wants to buy it. And consume it. Where you need to move it is into commerce and let the industry help you consume this. Thank you Mr. Chairman. [Speaker changes] Thank you Gary, I appreciate you coming and I’m sure your comments are welcome here. Sharron Miller from Carolina Utility Customers Associations, Sharron if you would come forward and speak. [Speaker changes] Good morning Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, my name is Sharron Miller; I’m appearing on behalf of the Carolina Utility Customers Association. CUCA is a business association that was established in 1983 to protect the energy interest of manufacturers across the state, before the general assembly and before the North Carolina Utilities Commission. We commence Senate bill 729 as a good starting point for the discussion of regarding the potential closure and conversion of the co ash ponds that are necessary for the protection of the health and safety of our public. You know, it’s easy for any of us to Monday morning quarter back what could have been down or should have been done regarding co ash but we think and we support that looking forward and identifying the most sensible clean of co ash plans that are achievable as well as affordable for our businesses and citizens across North Carolina. While some do advocate a heavy handed, one size all approach, we believe that an engineered, scientifically evaluated and measured approach is more economically prudent. Now clearly we all want a cleaner environment but, in fact, there is a huge cost difference between the different options that we’ve heard. We’ve heard cost projections from the low end of 2 billion dollars on up to 10 billion dollars and that is a tremendous amount of money for all of us and it’s kind of looking at the Ford option, which is very affordable, dependable, reliable, can accomplish the mission vs a Cadillac, with all the custom bells and whistles and that’s certainly nice as well. But decisions oftly boil down to weighing all the options and all the costs and the benefits, before making a decision. We think it is critical that legislatures, the ??, that all involved do the same critical analysis before making decisions on these plans. It certainly takes time to perform these scientific studies for all of Duke’s co ash ponds and determine what is the best recommended course of action and we think the focus should be allowing sufficient time to complete these studies and developing a balance
Speaker, Sharon ?: cost effective plan for each of the sides. We think getting this first step right is certainly critical before moving forward. Ensuring safe, reliable and reasonably priced energy is a top tier issue for our members and manufacturers across our state. Low energy costs are crucial not only for job retention but also for job development. We would just ask that legislators take all this into consideration. Energy is a cornerstone to the economic wellbeing of our businesses, our business community. We advocate that legislators do what is reasonable and necessary to protect the environment while not inordinate in the clean-up of Duke’s coal ash plants. Thank you. [SPEAKER CHANGES, male, Chairman: Thank you Sharon. Good job. I’m going to change the format just a bit before we close. We’ve got a few extra minutes and I was going to ask committee members if anyone had any questions after hearing some of the comments that were made by the speakers? Senator Allran… Senator Allran: Thank you Mr. Chairman. I would just like to get to the bottom of the issue of recycling the coal ash to the North Carolina concrete industry or other North Carolina industries. I mean I would just like to know, can we use this coal ash, either by doing something to it and using it here or can we not? I keep hearing how we are going to study the issue and we’re studying that. But what do we actually know about it scientifically and what is the bottom line about this? [SPEAKER CHANGES], male, Chairman: Ok. Good Question. Mr. Secretary did you want to take that or… [SPEAKER CHANGES, male, Mr. Secretary: Senator I can’t comment on the concrete but the gentleman from the industry can enlighten us but I will say that we’ve already started doing some test work with the North Carolina DOT and the preliminary indications for use in road construction is very good. [SPEAKER CHANGES, male, Chairman: Good. Senator Allran do you have another question? Senator Allran: I wondered if the gentleman from Charlotte in the industry could just answer the question…he’s suggesting he should be buying this coal ash. That was the suggestion that I heard… [SPEAKER CHANGES], Chariman: Mr. Benton(?), if you would, did you hear his question? [SPEAKER CHANGES] Mr. Benton(?): No. [SPEAKER CHANGES}, Chairman: Ok. Senator Allran, do you want to repeat it? Senator Allran: Maybe it was an incorrect inference on my part, but I inferred from what you said that you or the North Carolina industry should be buying this coal ash and using it? [SPEAKER CHANGES] Mr. Benton(?): Absolutely. Senator Allran: Well I guess my question then is the simple obvious one is well, why aren’t you and why isn’t there a plan in place to be doing that? [SPEAKER CHANGES] Mr. Benton(?): Well, my plan would be to buy it Senator. I can’t speak to the processes that Duke employs but some of the ash that they are producing is virtually unusable by us. There are technologies out there, it’s happening in Maryland, it’s happening in West Virginia and South Carolina. Those utilities chose a different path and the ash is of such a quality that we can use it and consume it. If I tried to use it in the state today I couldn’t build a road today. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Chairman: Senator Allran you have a follow-up? Senator Allran: Yes. Don’t we need to know that it wouldn’t be…that it may be cheaper to convert that ash so that you could recycle it.. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Mr. Benton(?): Absolutely… Senator Allran: than to move it off someplace else and build a new pond with a liner than do all that? Don’t we need to know what the most cost effective thing to do is before we go relocate it to a new liner? [SPEAKER CHANGES] Chairman: Ok. Senator Allran, I think we’ve got, Mr. Benton, if you would if you would I’m going to let someone from Duke that I think may have some knowledge, I know you weren’t on the list but go ahead if you care to answer that if that is suitable to the committee. [SPEAKER CHANGES] George Everett(?sp): Thank you Mr. Chairman. My name is George Everett(?sp). I work for Duke Energy. I can give some insight into this question about using the ash. First of all we sell ash currently into the concrete market and have for years. The quality of that ash is at issue. If you are in the concrete business or the cement business the specifications for that ash have to meet very tight limits. Otherwise the ash doesn’t perform well and meet its purpose in the concrete. We produce just over a million tons a year. You heard the gentleman talk about what their market can carry. We have a hundred and…….
Billion tons on our sites. So in order to match up the supply that we have stored on our sites, with the demand, we can do that. But remember the market as I heard, it is just over a million tons a year. So if all the ash on all of our sites was perfectly ready to go into the market, it would take a hundred years to use it. Now, we’re not stopping and just saying it can’t be done. We can convert that ash that’s on our site to be used in the concrete market. We have the technology. We use it today. The older plants that were on our system that produced all that stored ash did not work as efficiently as the new plants on our system. So there’s old retired plants with the ash that was not efficiently burned, has to be re-burned. It’s called carbon burnout. If we can lower the carbon content in that ash to the point where the concrete business can use it, we can do that. We have investigated building new facilities to produce more of that ash that would be usable in the concrete business. And for about 30 million dollars, we can build a facility that will produce more ash. The problem is and we’ve done this historically, if we invest that money to generate a lot more usable ash, and the concrete market which is not a steady market, goes away, we have invested a lot of money into a product that no longer anybody wants. But we’re all over if you want our ash, we have plenty for you. The other thing I would add is it’s not just the carbon in the ash that’s an issue. In the effort to remove emissions from our plants that go up into the air, we scrub out certain materials. That material contains ammonia. So we take it out of the air. It shows up in our ash, which is also a problem in the concrete business. So in step one, we took the emissions out of the air. It showed up in our ash, and some of that ash won’t meet the market demand. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Thank you, George. Senator Ford, did you have a question. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I just wanted to say it’s a breath of fresh air in here today, anytime we get industry to come in and help us provide solutions to problems in this state, instead of either legislators trying to come up with these wild ideas, or even the staff itself. Along those lines, I’d like to see what we could do to encourage DOT to use more of this byproduct, this coal ash, into the road beds to see if we could get a more readily available use for this particular product. And I’m sure DOT may not be in here, but I do think that that’s a question for the department as we try to allow the industry to move in such an area as we can use and reclaim this product to keep it out of our waterways and keep it out of ponds. Thank you Mr. Chair. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Thank you. Thanks for your comments. I couldn’t agree more. Senator Hartsell, do you have a question? [SPEAKER CHANGES] Actually just another comment. I want to say this, what with the recent discussion I think is perhaps the most significant we’ve had in all of this circumstance. The state of Kentucky as I understand it requires the use of coal ash in their road building. I’m not sure of that, but we can check on that. I’m just saying, creating these integrated relationships is the most sensible thing to do deal with the problem that I’ve heard in some time. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Senator Tucker. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Just as a comment too, I’ll be one second here. ?? Cooper in South Carolina had a private firm that came in and built the facilities, Mr. Everett, and they built it at no cost to the utility. They just utilized their land. They process the coal ash and sell it to the concrete industry, so there wouldn’t have to be in that particular site an expenditure of 30 million dollars. So I think Senator Hartsell’s onto something in that coal ash can not only be used in concrete but can be used some in asphalt. So a combination of paving our roads with it and encapsulating it and never being a pollution problem, certainly Mr. Secretary, seems like a sensible solution for some of the problem. Thank you. [SPEAKER CHANGES] George, you may want to consider hiring Tommy Tucker. I don’t know where he comes up with these ideas but we appreciate it. [SPEAKER CHANGES] If it pays over 13,000 a year, I don’t want the job. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Well
I would say from some of your comments it'd be well worth that. Thank you. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Do we have any other questions from anybody, we're going to let the Secretary make some conclusion remarks, etc. If you wouldn't mind coming up, Mr. Secretary, if you so desire. [SPEAKER CHANGES] We couldn't agree more that an integrated approach Senator Tucker is absolutely the way to go, and the governor's plan gives flexibility to do that. That's exactly what we're about. All right just one point of clarification. There were a couple of references made to the current rule of law and the governor's footprint weakens or diminishes the rule of law. Understand that that is, and ?? is very respectful of the rule of law, by the way. Basically I think what was referred to was a trial court decision recently that overturned about 20 years of precedent by the environmental management commission and supported by an opinion from the attorney general's office. And that decision is currently under appeal at the North Carolina appellate level. So we really don't know what the answer to that is yet until the court of appeals, the supreme court has ruled on that. Other than that, I can't tell you how much we appreciate your comments. I think the governor's footprint is something that will protect the environment unequivocally. That it will protect the citizens of North Carolina. And we obviously are very open to embellishment improvement, positive comments, and we hope that you can use that blueprint to go forward very expeditiously. Speaker Tillis told me just before I came over here, you know, let's get something done. So thank you very much. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Thank you, Mr. Secretary. Turn this back on. Thank you, Mr. Secretary, we appreciate the discussion. We've had a very informative discussion. We have one gentleman who indicated he didn't have an opportunity to speak. I'm going to allow him three minutes. I don't know which, okay, if you would come forward. Tell us your name, because you're on the signup sheet. And since we do have a couple minutes, I'm going to allow you to speak. Thank you. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Thank you very much for that. My name is Matthew Star. I am the Noose River Keeper and I'll be quick since I'm following the closing remarks. A large part of my work focuses on water quality and protecting water quality within the Noose River and the Noose River Basin. Including the ?? pond that sits on the banks of the Noose River in Goldsboro North Carolina. Now we have heard that coal ash has been polluting our ground water and surface water for years, in the state and the country, in ?? and the Dam River Spill. And the subsequent listing of the super fund site there which speaks to how poor or how badly this pollution is for the environment and our communities. However what these spills don't speak towards is the amount and the continuous pollution through ground water and seeps and illegal discharges. For instance at the ?? facility in Goldsboro, ground water is being poisoned by arsenic at over 60 times the state standard. Let that sink in. 60 times the state standard. All right. Thank you very much for allowing me to speak. I told you I'd be quick. I look forward to seeing a strong senate bill that addresses all the coal ash spots across our state and helps reduce the amount of ground water and surface water contamination for our environment and for our citizens. Thank you. [SPEAKER CHANGES] Thank you, Matthew, I appreciate your comments and I regret I overlooked your name, I'm very sorry about that. We are five minutes away from session, so with no further comments, I'm going to adjourn this meeting. Thank you all for attending and I appreciate your participation. Thank you.