National environmental activist Robert F. Kennedy Jr. will join other environmentalists at the Riverbend Access Area on Mountain Island Lake on Tuesday to discuss a report by environmental groups that highlights how they say the coal industry is poisoning water and how the public can stop it.
The report, which will be released later this morning, was written by the Sierra Club, Environmental Integrity Project, Earthjustice, Clean Water Action and Waterkeeper Alliance.
"This is a very timely issue because after three decades of delay, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is finally proposing to curb the dumping of billions of pounds of toxic pollution from coal-fired power plants into U.S. waterways and drinking water sources," Catawba Riverkeeper Sam Perkins said in an email announcing today's 2:30 p.m. press conference.
"Newly released data will show that a strong EPA rule would sharply reduce human and wildlife exposure to dangerous water pollution such as arsenic, mercury, lead, cadmium, selenium, and other heavy metals," Perkins said.
Joining Perkins and Kennedy at today's press conference will be Mary Anne Hitt, director of the Beyond Coal Campaign for Sierra Club; Eric Schaeffer, executive director of Environmental Integrity Project; Rick Gaskins, executive director of the Catawba Riverkeeper Foundation.
On July 15, North Carolina's environmental agency and Duke Energy proposed a settlement in a lawsuit that said coal ash stored at the Riverbend power plant threatens Charlotte's water supply.
In a proposed order that will be open for public comment for 30 days, Duke agrees to assess the sources and extent of contamination at Riverbend and at its Asheville power plant.
Duke would be fined $99,000 if the order becomes final.
The environmental groups that prodded the state to take legal action lambasted the agreement as toothless, saying it allows Duke to continue studying problems at Mountain Island Lake that have been known for years. The lake supplies drinking water to about 750,000 people.
But state officials say the order could make Duke take cleanup steps that are "scaled to the risk involved" - including closing the ash lagoons.
Staff Writer Bruce Henderson contributed.
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