One of Eight Screenings Statewide in Response to the Duke Energy Coal Ash Spill
Katie Hicks, Clean Water for North Carolina, [email protected], 828-251-1291
Elaine Lite, Mountain People’s Assembly, [email protected], 828-273-1781
Ulla Reeves, Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, [email protected], 828-254-6776 ext. 2
Julie Mayfield, Western North Carolina Alliance, [email protected],828-258-8737
Kristin Henry, Working Films, [email protected], 910-233-1824
Asheville, N.C. (June 12) – Next Thursday, June 19, local organizations will host a free film night as part of Coal Ash Stories, a statewide screening tour featuring four short documentary films focused on coal ash, related public health concerns, and policy. The screening is free and open to the public and will be held Thursday, June 19th at 7pm at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Asheville.
This February, a storm water pipe below a massive Duke Energy coal ash impoundment failed, spilling 140,000 tons of toxic-laden coal ash and contaminated wastewater into North Carolina’s Dan River. This coal ash sludge now coats the Dan for 70 miles downstream, and the full public health and economic impacts are still unknown.
“In addition to leaking toxics to groundwater and the French Broad River, the Asheville Power Station’s coal ash impoundments are rated ‘high hazard’ by EPA,” says Katie Hicks of Clean Water for North Carolina. “That means that a Kingston-like failure of the 90-foot-tall earthen dams perched above I-26 and the French Broad River would cause massive infrastructure damage and likely loss of human life. These dumpsites pose serious threats to our community and need to be moved to safer, modern storage immediately.”
The films and post-screening program will provide an opportunity for the public to learn about the health and environmental impacts of coal ash in communities across the country, talk with community members, and get involved in efforts to hold utilities accountable for their waste. “Coal ash is the second largest industrial waste stream in America, though it is less regulated than your household garbage,” states Amy Adams of Appalachian Voices, one of over 20 organizations partnering to present the tour.
The four films featured in Coal Ash Stories – An Ill Wind, At What Cost?, Coal Ash Chronicles, and Downwind and Downstream – paint a grim picture of what life looks like when coal ash pollutes a community. People are unable to drink their own water, take a bath, fish, or farm without worrying about long-term health effects. Similar fears are now facing communities located near other coal-fired power plants in North Carolina. Filmmaker Rhiannon Fionn, creator of Coal Ash Chronicles, states, “It is important to elevate conversations about pollution of all kinds in our country for the sake of our health and the health and viability of future generations. My hope is that films like mine will galvanize citizens who have the power to push for positive change.”
Bridget Whelan of the North Carolina Conservation Network says, “The stories we’re hearing in these films and from North Carolinians living near currently leaking coal ash ponds remind us that real people are suffering real affects from coal ash pollution. For their sake, it’s imperative that North Carolina immediately move all coal ash to safer storage, away from our water and from threatened communities.”
Ulla Reeves of Southern Alliance for Clean Energy says, “The Dan River is a tragic reminder of the dangers associated with storing coal ash in outdated, leaking impoundments next to our rivers. However, it’s not an isolated incident and communities across our region and country are living with coal ash impacts and threats on a daily basis.” The NC screening tour is co-presented by Appalachian Voices, Earthjustice, North Carolina Conservation Network, Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, and Working Films.
WHEN: Thursday, June 19th, 7pm
WHERE: Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Asheville 1 Edwin Place, Asheville, NC 28801