Photos That Make the Rude Pundit Want to Shove a Filthy Largemouth Bass Up Some Energy Executive's Ass:
You see that lovely body of water on the lower part of the picture? That's Sutton Lake, right near Wilmington, North Carolina, close to the Cape Fear River. It's a gorgeous reservoir that is noted for its duck hunting and largemouth bass fishing. "Sutton Lake," North Carolina Sportsman notes, "is home to one of the hottest largemouth bass fisheries North Carolina has to offer." The fish love it because the water is heated by the L.V. Sutton Steam Electric Plant, which uses natural gas to make steam to make electricity. Up until December 2013, Duke Energy, which owns the plant, created the steam by burning coal.
What does this have to do with killing animals in a pretty North Carolina "lake"? Well, the top part of the photo there? See it? That's a couple of coal ash ponds, where the waste products of all that burning coal is stored. And, yeah, there's just a few pretty damn thin earth walls between toxic waste and fishing paradise.
The people in the towns around Sutton Lake are worried because a Duke Energy-owned coal ash pond upstate on the Dan River in the ironically named town of Eden spilled about 35 million gallons of a chemical and heavy metal slurry (which, yeah, yeah, would be a great name for a band, ha, ha) into the water back on February 2. After initially telling people that the water was safe, now state and federal officials are warning people to avoid contact with the river and not to eat fish from it.
As far as fish go, at Sutton Lake, around the time that Duke was switching the plant from coal to natural gas, environmentalists discovered that selenium from the coal ash was leaching through those wispy banks and poisoning the fish, killing nearly a million and causing deformities in many more. Duke says it isn't true because what the hell else are they gonna say?
And now it seems that the groundwater has been contaminated by the seemingly uncontainable coal ash and is poisoning the water supply. Some residents of Flemington, right near the plant, have said they no longer feel safe drinking the water. Despite insisting that none of this is true, Duke has agreed to build a pipe system that gets residents water from a public system and not the wells in the ground where a plume of poison is heading.
Oh, the state of North Carolina hasn't asked Duke to take any action to prevent this from happening again. Yes, the feds are investigating the Dan River spill as a criminal act and even NC Governor Pat McCrory (campaign slogan: "What Can I Do For You, Duke?") has said that he wants Duke to move the ponds away from drinking water. But when it comes to Sutton Lake, "[p]ressed by a reporter last week, state Division of Water Quality Director Tom Reeder conceded that the state was aware of the groundwater contamination leeching from Duke's dumps at Sutton and had done nothing to force the company to stop the pollution." Maybe this just isn't as glamorous a crisis as the pictures of curls of coal ash in the Dan River.
So, in 2014, large numbers of people can't drink water in two states in the greatest, most exceptionalest nation in the history of everything. That seems like failure at a pretty profound level, but, of course, that demands action which might offend a job creator.