Belmont residents say they weren't taken into consideration with Coal Ash Bill

- People who live in Belmont’s South Point neighborhood said they feel let down by their legislative representatives.

"We have done everything we were supposed to do. We went to hearings. We had about 8,000 comments supporting clean-up," Debra Baker said.

The Coal Ash Clean-up bill passed and was sent to the governor's desk to sign but what these homeowners pleaded for, a full clean-up of all ash pits, and for a coal ash management commission, is nowhere to be found.

"The bill hands Duke and the governor what they wanted all along. No oversight and a cheap way out of the expense of public health," Baker said.

The positive, the bill said Duke Energy will give residents clean drinking water for those within one half mile of the coal ash area by connecting them to "public supplies of water.”

Duke Energy has until October of 2018 to do so. Residents in the area will have to stay on bottled water for another two years.

The negative, coal ash pits designated as "high risk" could be reclassified as "low risk" and be covered and left in place. Which is what they said caused the contamination of their well water in the first place.

"There was no one who said they were for cap and place," Baker exaplined.

"This method will only slow down the leaching of contaminates from the unlined basins. It will not stop the leaching of it like a properly lined and encapsulated landfill," Mitchem said.

They are calling it the "Sweetheart Deal" for Duke Energy and they want the governor to know they aren't happy.

"If the legislation wants to play 'let's make a deal'...they should make it with the affected communities," Mitchem said.

"I still feel this state has not protected us and Governor McCrory has not done his job," Baker said.

Debra Baker told FOX 46 Charlotte she lost her husband to lung disease and believes it's due to the coal ash.

She hopes that legislature listens to their pleas before any more damage is done.

FOX 46 Charlotte reached out to Duke Energy about the bill. They sent us a statement that reads:

"We appreciate the legislature and administration working together to craft a bipartisan solution that protects the environment and local communities, while preserving the full range of options to safely close ash basins in ways that also protect customer bills. This legislation strengthens the Coal Ash Management Act, provides peace of mind through a permanent water supply to plant neighbors and promotes the beneficial reuse of coal ash.

The flexibility that this law provides will help ensure that science, not special interests, can provide the right closure solution for each of our sites. We are committed to meeting the requirements of the law and to being a leader in the safe closure of ash basins across the state." 

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