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Coal Ash at Duke’s W.S. Lee’s Plant

Southern Environmental Law Center, Upstate Forever, and Save our Saluda requested an Ex Parte Briefing on Duke’s Coal Ash with the South Carolina Public Service Commission. Frank Holleman, Senior Attorney with the Southern Environmental Law Center, and a member of the CVSC Board, presented on the WS Lee coal-burning plant. WS Lee is one of the oldest coal fired plants in South Carolina, starting up in 1951, just south of Pelzer in Anderson County. Bing has a nice birds-eye view of the plant.

Earlier this week, Duke has announced plans to remove some of the ash from WS Lee, but only in the inactive sites. Mr. Holleman said yesterday in The State:  “It’s a good first step…This is the first time they’ve done it in South Carolina. They have a total of 16 sites in the two states and they have committed to remove it totally from four sites in North Carolina and partially from this one.”

Frank Holleman briefing the PSC.

In today’s briefing, Mr. Holleman provided an update to the Commissioners, and said the Saluda River is at risk of a spill like we saw in the Dan River earlier this Year. The Dan River spill was a catastrophe for the river. The Greensboro News and Record has had in-depth coverage of that spill and its impact on drinking water, in cities like Danville, Virginia. Like the Dan, WS Lee is upstream from drinking water intakes, in this case on the Saluda, including Honea Path, Belton, and Greenwood.

Coal ash contains toxic substances like arsenic, chromium, and lead.

Commissioners asked detailed questions, and expressed concerns about the urgency of the risk, the location of the lined hazardous waste landfill that would receive the risk, DHEC’s role in the response, and an ideal timeline for a response from Duke.

Rebecca Haynes, our Government Relations Director, and I attended today. Conservation Voters and our conservation parters in South Carolina, including SELC, Upstate Forever, Save our Saluda, Coastal Conservation League, Sierra Club of South Carolina, and others will continue to follow this issue.



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