EDEN, N.C. — An Eden community is protesting the very idea of Duke Energy building a coal ash landfill near it.
The company’s Dan River steam station site is now retired, following a coal ash spill into the waterway in February 2014.
Spokesperson Jeff Brooks said 1.2 million tons of coal ash have been excavated and sent mostly by rail to a landfill in Amelia County, Va.
The remaining 1.4 million tons may be stored in a new lined landfill in or near Eden.
Duke has not decided on a final location, said Brooks. They are considering on and off-site locations near the Dan River plant. Brooks said a nearby site would help keep them from disrupting the community with trucks and equipment constantly in and out of town.
Documents with the Register of Deed’s office showed Duke Energy’s interest in purchasing land of Sharpe Avenue and South New Street. The area is called the Draper community, and people there are petitioning city council not to allow Duke Energy to build a landfill anywhere near Eden.
“I have a fairly nice home. But nobody would buy my home knowing that operation is coming here. So what am I going to do with it?” questioned resident Nelson Hairston, Sr.
His wife Delores T. Hairston added, “Why would you want to put something in the community? It’s a community! People live there.”
Eden’s NAACP branch President Malcolm Allen is concerned, too, specifically because of who lives in the Draper community.
“It’s is a very low-income area, this would be right in the backyards of a minority neighborhood,” he explained. “We feel like there are other options. It may cost a little more, but what price tag can you put on the lives and health of individuals?”
He said folks in Draper wouldn’t necessarily have the resources for a legal battle.
They’ve banded together to form a petition with more than 700 signatures. Allen said they’ve added 200-300 more names to the list since it was given to City Council Tuesday.
City Council members tell FOX8 they were advised not to speak publicly about their opinions of a potential landfill site. They are trying to keep an open mind, one said.
Jeff Brooks told FOX8 Duke Energy recently helped offer free energy efficiency upgrades throughout the Draper area.
He said construction of a landfill had the potential to create local jobs, and emphasized that the company plans to minimize any landfill’s impact on the environment and community.
Brooks hopes a final location will be determined soon.