NC Governor Backs More Oversight of Coal Ash Ponds

Released June 29, EPA's list of 44 ponds nationwide that are assigned a high hazard potential rating, meaning a failure probably would cause fatalities, included 12 North Carolina sites -- the most of any state.

North Carolina Gov. Bev Perdue on Wednesday urged state lawmakers to pass a bill that would increase safety inspections of the dams at coal ash ponds located in the state. The bill would give the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources authority to inspect them. Perdue endorsed a bill sponsored by Rep. Pricey Harrison, D-Greensboro, that would regulate ponds more tightly and would require a state inspection every two years. Harrison also sponsored House Bill 9, which bans texting while driving in North Carolina and was signed into law June 19 by Perdue.

"Because of where some of the ponds are located, greater safety oversight and more frequent inspections will help reduce potential risks," Perdue said in her announcement.

The ponds are located beside coal-burning power plants and contain ash resulting from coal combustion. When EPA on June 29 released a list of 44 ponds nationwide that were assigned a high hazard potential rating according to National Dam Safety Program criteria, meaning a failure probably would cause fatalities, the list included 12 North Carolina sites -- the most of any state. EPA said the ponds can contain fly ash, bottom ash, coal slag, and flue gas desulfurization residue. This material contains "a broad range of metals, for example, arsenic, selenium, cadmium, lead, and mercury, but the concentrations of these are generally low. However, if not properly managed, (for example, in lined units), [the ponds] may cause a risk to human health and the environment and, in fact, EPA has documented cases of environmental damage," the agency said.

EPA compiled the list, using state dam safety officials' ratings, following the Dec. 22, 2008, failure of a dam that held back a 40-acre coal waste pond at a Tennessee Valley Authority plant in Harriman County, Tenn. The flood of wet ash contaminated 300 acres of land but did not cause serious injuries or deaths.

The high hazard potential rating is given to dams near densely populated areas or downstream water supplies and does not reflect the structural condition of the dam. Gov. Perdue noted power companies in North Carolina are currently required only to file reports by private engineers on the structural conditions of their dams every five years. The impoundment dams currently are exempt from the North Carolina Dam Safety Act, but the bill would change that.

Other states with dams on EPA's list of high hazard potential ratings were Arizona (nine dams), West Virginia (four), Ohio (six), Kentucky (seven), Illinois (two), and Indiana, Pennsylvania, Georgia, and Montana, all four of which had one dam each on the list.

Download Center

  • Hand Safety Program

    Hand injuries are the #1 preventable industrial accident worldwide. In REThink Hand Safety, the most comprehensive book on hand safety, you'll learn how top companies have reduced hand injuries by up to 90% and what the most successful hand safety programs have in common. Get your free copy today.

  • Free 1-on-1 Consultations

    Get a free meeting with a Superior Glove hand safety expert and learn how to have less hand injuries, lower PPE costs, and increase worker productivity. 1-on-1 consultations provide you with personalized advice and recommendations for your specific needs and concerns.

  • Glove 101 Guide

    In this comprehensive guide, we've compiled all the key information you need to know about safety gloves to help you make informed decisions when choosing gloves for your workers. Whether you're new to the world of safety gloves or an experienced pro, this guide has something for everyone.

  • Sample Program

    Find the right safety gloves for your team and try before you buy—in just 3 easy steps! Simply add the products to your sample box, complete the request form, and wait for your samples to arrive at no cost to you.

  • Cut Protection Product Guide

    Find the right safety gloves for your workers to protect them from cut hazards. This guide offers a wide selection of gloves, including ultra-thin gloves with the industry’s maximum cut resistance for unbeatable dexterity and touch sensitivity.

  • Superior Glove

Featured Whitepaper

OH&S Digital Edition

  • OHS Magazine Digital Edition - February March 2023

    February March 2023


      Does Real-Time Data Enhance Gas Detection Programs?
      Hearing Protection: The Dangers of Non-Compliance
      Personal Protective Equipment: The Pains of Staying Pain-Free
      Reframing Eyewear: Meeting Workforce Needs with Technology and Advancements
    View This Issue