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State hosts public meeting in Asheville on Duke Energy's coal ash plans

The N.C. Department of Environmental Quality held a hearing at the campus of Asheville–Buncombe Technical Community College in Asheville about the removal of the remaining coal ash from Duke Energy's Lake Julian power plant. (Photo credit: WLOS staff)

Removal of the remaining coal ash from Duke Energy's Lake Julian power plant received some public attention Monday night.

The N.C. Department of Environmental Quality held a hearing at the campus of Asheville–Buncombe Technical Community College in Asheville.

People were able to review and respond to a draft plan for emptying what remains at Duke's coal-fired facility, which is set for replacement and conversion to natural gas. Much of the coal ash was trucked to Asheville Regional Airport and sealed below ground for expansion there. Environmentalists believe it was the best way to go.

"It's unfortunate, though, that Duke is unwilling to do that everywhere across the state," French Broad Riverkeeper Hartwell Carson said. "They're doing it here in Asheville, and that's great, that will protect our communities and the French Broad River, but they're not doing it at numerous other sites across the state, putting communities and waterways at risk."

The second of four Duke public hearings is scheduled for tomorrow in Eden. That's near where close to 39,000 tons of coal ash spilled into the Dan River in 2014.

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