Some residents near Belews Lake have health concerns about water quality

STOKES COUNTY, N.C. — Neighbors of the Duke Energy Belews Creek Steam Station have health concerns for their water quality.

A group of Pine Hall community residents met with the grassroots organization Appalachian Voices Sunday afternoon to discuss concerns on coal contamination and the plan to lobby for state legislation and support of coal ash clean up.

The group wants removal of all wet coal ash and unlined dry landfills away from water resources, at no cost to the customers, stricter water testing restrictions and an Emergency Action Plan in the event of a dam failure.

With a goal of 1,000 petition signatures by winter, they also want elected representatives to prevent cap-in-place as a policy for coal ash sites in the state.

“I think that there’s a lot of health concerns just to ignore the problem and we just really have to pressure and make sure that it gets cleaned up cause it’s going to impact people for a really long time,” said Caroline Armijo.

Duke Energy Representative Erin Culbert said the test results from a well water sample on March 27, 2014 proved to be within the EPA Water Drinking Standards and the N.C. Groundwater Quality Standards.

The results did however show a low pH level of 5.93. Officials who gave the state test results said that the water pH is not uncommon in the area and may vary each time it is measured.

The following statement was released in regards to the community’s concerns about the safety of the water:

“Belews Creek is one of the most efficient and well-equipped coal stations in the country. The vast majority of ash that is produced there is managed in a state-of-the-art lined landfill, not an ash basin. We have been monitoring groundwater near the ash basin for many years and have no reason for concern for neighboring drinking water wells. As we consider the best way to close the ash basin, we’re evaluating options that will continue to protect groundwater and the neighboring community.”

The group plans to meet every third Sunday at Forest Chapel Church on Pine Hall Road.

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