• Report accuses Duke Energy of leaking pollutants into lakes

    By: Linzi Sheldon


    MOUNTAIN ISLAND LAKE, N.C. - There was a call to action from environmental activists today to protect the drinking water for more than 800,000 people in the Charlotte area.

    They gathered at Mountain Island Lake to release a new report that in part accuses Duke Energy of leaking toxic pollutants into the lake.

    "They have said they will have only one discharge from the coal ash ponds and that's not true," Catawba Riverkeeper Sam Perkins said.

    Perkins took Eyewitness News and others to what he says is just one of four major seepage points. Documents passed out by the Riverkeeper also show a medium-sized seepage point and a very small one.

    He said pollutants like mercury and arsenic in the water are leaking into the Catawba River as a result.

    The report, called "Closing the Floodgates: How the Coal Industry is Poisoning Our Water and How We Can Stop It," calls them toxic metals and suggests there isn't enough testing being done.

    Perkins is pushing for support for newly proposed, higher EPA standards.

    "We're looking for the EPA to finally pass some of those rules to stop discharges like this," he said.

    But Duke Energy is firing back.

    "Are you saying some parts of this report are actually wrong?" Eyewitness News asked.

    "Absolutely," spokesperson Erin Culbert said. "We have identified a number of factual inaccuracies."

    Culbert said although there aren't specific limits for certain chemicals, state regulators monitor water samples.

    "Is the water safe?" Eyewitness News asked.

    "It is," Culbert said, saying that through testing they've determined that seepage is "minute." "[It] has no overall impact to the water quality of the lakes," she said.

    "This is a crime," Robert F. Kennedy Jr., an environmental law attorney and activist, said before the boat ride. He said higher standards are key and that Duke Energy, not its customers, should pay for the cleanup bill.

    He said if he were in charge of regulation, "I would not allow them to pass those costs on to the public."

    Eyewitness News asked Duke Energy about the other seepage sites that activists say need permits.

    Duke Energy said state regulators are aware of them, monitor them, and that any permitting requirements would be up to them.

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