Kristin Henry, Working Films, [email protected], 910-233-1824
Amy Adams, Appalachian Voices, [email protected], 252-944-6459
Bridget Whelan, NC Conservation Network, [email protected], 919-857-4699 ext. 109
Ulla Reeves, Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, [email protected], 828-254-6776 ext. 2
Asheville, N.C. – This month, organizations across North Carolina will launch Coal Ash Stories, a statewide screening tour featuring four short documentary films focused on coal ash, related public health concerns, and policy. Below you can find the full schedule of events being held in Asheville, Belews Creek, Charlotte, Durham, Greensboro, Raleigh, Wilmington, and Winston-Salem.
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 for this spill are still unknown. Dozens more coal ash impoundments across North Carolina and the Southeast are at risk of failure according to the interactive website southeastcoalash.org, a comprehensive online tool featuring clickable maps, factsheets and environmental/public health data for every coal-fired power plant in the Southeast.
The films and post-screening programs will provide an opportunity for the public to learn about the health 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.”
Working Films, a national nonprofit and nonpartisan organization based in Wilmington, NC, is coordinating the statewide screening tour. Working Films builds partnerships between nonfiction media-makers, nonprofit organizations, businesses, educators and advocates to advance community-based and policy solutions to social, economic, and environmental challenges. Coal Ash Stories is a new initiative using issue-specific media to support allied organizations and is part of Reel Power, a larger campaign among filmmakers and organizations working to address the negative impacts of climate change and natural resource extraction.
The NC screening tour is co-presented by Appalachian Voices, Earthjustice, North Carolina Conservation Network, NC WARN, Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, and Working Films. Additional collaborators include 350.org Triangle, Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League, Cape Fear River Watch, Clean Water for North Carolina, Durham People’s Alliance, Fund for Democratic Communities, League of Conservation Voters, Mountain People’s Assembly, Neuse Riverkeeper Foundation, New Hanover County NAACP, Sierra Club Cape Fear Group, Sierra Club Capital Group, Sierra Club Foothills Group, and Sierra Club Headwaters Group.
Thursday, June 12th, 7pm: Old Salem Single Brothers Workshop
10 West Academy Street Winston-Salem, NC 27101
Hosted by: Sierra Club Foothills Group
Tuesday June 17, 7pm: Pine Hall Ruritan Club
1555 Pine Hall Rd Pine Hall, NC 27042
Hosted by: Appalachian Voices
Thursday, June 19th, 7pm: Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Asheville
1 Edwin Place, Asheville, NC 28801
Hosted by: Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, Mountain People’s Assembly, Clean Water for NC, Western North Carolina Alliance,Asheville Beyond Coal
Thursday, June 19th, 7pm
Central Library Nussbaum Room
219 N Church St., Greensboro, NC 27405
Co-hosted by: Fund for Democratic Communities, League of Conservation Voters, Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League