Meeting held over Eden coal ash landfill plans

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EDEN, N.C. — Duke Energy officials were grilled by residents at a public hearing Wednesday over plans to build a landfill in Eden.

The 23-acre landfill would store coal ash being cleaned up from the Dan River after the massive spill in 2014 where about 30,000 tons of coal ash spilled into the river in Eden.

Dozens of residents spoke out against the plan.

“Do we want this? No. We do not want it,” said Eden resident Veronica Clark.

“We’re supposed to be the land of two rivers, not the land of coal ash,” said Bryan Smith, who lives in Rockingham County.

The Department of Environmental Quality held the event.

Residents pleaded with state officials not to let the plan move forward.

“We need to do all we can to keep that coal ash storage out of here,” said Ronnell Wilson, who lives in Eden.

Duke Energy is trying to get a permit to build the landfill, which officials say would only store coal ash from the Dan River plant.

The landfill would be double-lined and covered and built far away from the river.

Coal ash is currently shoveled out from the Eden plant and taken to a landfill in Virginia.

Duke officials say to speed up the process, they’ll need to build another landfill.

“We still have a long way to go,” said Davis Montgomery, district manager for Duke Energy. “We understand that, but we are proud of the significant progress we’ve made closing coal ash basins so far.”

But residents who say Eden’s been through enough are skeptical.

“Wake up,” said Eden resident Nelson Hairston Jr. “If you don’t wake up, you’re going to die in your sleep from Duke power’s mess.”

If the plan gets passed, construction on the landfill could begin as soon as the fall.

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