Households in vicinity of Belews Creek Steam Station, Mayo Steam Electric Plant and Roxboro Steam Electric Plant seek legal rights to permanent municipal water supply.
DALLAS – July 18, 2017 – The national law firm of Baron & Budd today announced its opposition of Duke Energy’s attempt to provide water filtration systems as the only option for neighbors of Duke Energy’s coal ash waste sites in Roxboro, Mayo, Belews Creek and Asheville, rather than providing connection to safe public water systems.
Baron & Budd, along with the Law Offices of F. Bryan Brice, Jr. and Wallace and Graham, represents more than 1,000 individuals who live near the Duke plants at Roxboro, Mayo, Belews Creek (Walnut Cove), Lee (Goldsboro) Asheville, Buck (Salisbury), Allen (Belmont), Marshall (Terrell) and Cliffside. The firms, along with their clients, are reviewing legal options to continue to pursue their case against Duke Energy. The plaintiffs allege Duke Energy coal ash waste sites caused contaminated drinking water at their nearby homes, among other issues.
At latest count, Duke Energy has identified nearly 900 households across North Carolina that are eligible for permanent alternative water supply under the Coal Ash Management Act (CAMA). Under CAMA, connection to public water is preferred. However, if the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) determines that connection to a public water system to a particular household would be “cost prohibitive,” DEQ can authorize installation of a filtration system. Earlier this year, the DEQ conditionally approved Duke’s proposed water plans, but stated that Duke’s recommendation of what was “cost prohibitive” was subject to change.
Since then, based on Duke’s determination of what was “cost prohibitive,” 184 well owners located predominantly at three plants (Belews Creek Steam Station, Mayo Steam Electric Plant and Roxboro Steam Electric Plant) were not provided access to a public water source, but rather given only one option – choosing a filtration system or opting out completely. Additionally, a number of well owners located in Arden, near the Asheville Steam Plant have only been offered filter systems, even though a public water connection is available. The same is now true for well owners impacted living directly across from the coal ash ponds across the French Broad River at the Asheville plant as well.
“We continue to argue that every household is entitled to clean water and should not be required to accept a filtration system,” said Cary McDougal, Shareholder at Baron & Budd. “In the information Duke supplied to DEQ, it provided a cost comparison for 10 years for the filtration system against the cost of installing public water lines. We highly question the validity of this comparison given industry standards indicating that public water lines have an effective life of 70 to 100 years, and we stand behind the DEQ’s recent instruction to Duke Energy to revisit the issue and research all feasible public water supply options for households around these plants.”
“We have been working diligently to meet with local public water supply officials and city/county boards to help show that there are viable, cost effective public water options,” said Bryan Brice, attorney with the Raleigh-based Law Offices of F. Bryan Brice, Jr. “The affected citizens with contaminated wells who we represent all want Duke Energy to provide a permanent municipal water supply pursuant to CAMA requirements. We will continue to bring this issue to the attention of Duke Energy and the DEQ.”
ABOUT BARON & BUDD, P.C.
The law firm of Baron & Budd, P.C., with offices in Dallas, Baton Rouge, New Orleans, Austin, Los Angeles, and San Diego, is a nationally recognized law firm with a nearly 40-year history of “Protecting What’s Right” for people, communities and businesses harmed by negligence. Baron & Budd’s size and resources enable the firm to take on large and complex cases. The firm represents individuals and government and business entities in areas as diverse as dangerous pharmaceuticals and medical devices, environmental contamination, the Gulf oil spill, financial fraud, overtime violations, deceptive advertising, automotive defects, trucking accidents, nursing home abuse, and asbestos-related illnesses such as mesothelioma.