Dr. John Daniels’ June 3 letter “Solutions for coal ash management” was full of discredited assertions about the safety of coal ash. Daniels, who is an engineer with no background in toxicology, compared the toxicity of coal ash to “the soil in your backyard, household garbage and ordinary Portland cement.”
In the past, Daniels has suggested that the chromium found in coal ash is as safe as chromium found in a multi-vitamin. None of these comparisons holds water unless, perhaps, our back yard is a capped-in-place coal ash pit.
In fact, Daniels’ implication that coal ash is safe for us or our children to ingest or be exposed to is recklessly dangerous. Coal ash contains the carcinogen hexavalent chromium, as well as other harmful substances like arsenic, lead, mercury and selenium. Prolonged exposure – say in drinking water – to these toxins can result in a laundry list of deadly health effects.
Worst of all, Daniels represents the National Ash Management Advisory Board – an organization created by Duke Energy, the source of North Carolina’s coal ash problem. Duke also funds the UNC Charlotte energy center where Daniels is an associate.
When is Duke Energy going to allow a health-based perspective into the inner circles of its National Ash Management Advisory Board?
North Carolina’s world renowned Research Triangle has biologists and geochemists who would be able to provide a true health-based approach to coal ash cleanup in conjunction with the use-driven engineering perspectives that Duke Energy allows to dominate its coal ash disposal decisions.
Environmental justice organizer and researcher, Clean Water For NC
The length limit was waived to permit a fuller response to the letter.