We’re hard at work bringing Coal Ash Stories to even more areas in North Carolina, and two recent screenings highlight the importance of bringing these film to communities that face the potential hazards of coal ash pollution.

Events in Lumberton (Robeson County) and Pittsboro (Chatham County) were organized by local organizations who want to assure that their sites – and all 14 coal ash storage locations across the state – are properly cleaned up.

On the banks of the Lumber River and home to the Lumbee Tribe, Lumberton has a long history of environmental organizing. It is also home to Duke Energy’s W.H. Weatherspoon Power Station and its unlined coal ash pits. Given these dangers, Winyah Rivers Foundation and Center for Community Action in Lumberton partnered with NC WARN to host a screening October 23rd at the Robeson County Public Library.

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Christine Ellis of Winyah Rivers Foundation shows the coal ash pits across the state.

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Nick Wood of NC WARN shows the location of the coal ash pits in Lumberton.

During the Q&A, facilitated by the Christine Ellis of Winyah Rivers Foundation and Nick Wood of NC WARN, community members expressed concern over the lack of attention given to Eastern NC and the need to educate local decision makers on this issue. They also considered how to use the Lumber River’s Wild and Scenic designation and regulations requiring protection of Native American cultural heritage to leverage needed protection for their river, land, and communities. The Fayetteville Observer covered the the event, highlighting community member’s concerns. The screening served as the kick off to a series of meetings to demand the clean up of the Weatherspoon Power Station’s coal ash impoundments.

The Cape Fear Power Station is situated at the juncture of Chatham and Lee counties. Local groups are concerned about the effects of the coal ash impoundment there and joined together with Cape Fear Riverkeeper to host Coal Ash Stories.

This March, Duke Energy was caught illegally pumping coal ash wastewater from the Chatham County plant into a tributary of the Cape Fear River. Riverkeeper Kemp Burdette whose territory covers the entire Cape Fear River Basin, was invited to speak not only about the potential threat posed by the Cape Fear impoundment but also his continued work advocating for the clean-up and regulation of the Sutton Steam Plant facility in Wilmington.

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Kemp Burdette of Cape Fear River Watch and Elaine Chiosso of the Haw River Assembly

The screening was held at the Chatham Community Library with a Q&A led by Elaine Chiosso of the Haw River Assembly, Kemp Burdette of Cape Fear River Watch, and Abundance NC. Elaine and Kemp encouraged the audience to voice their concerns to decision makers and to demand that all the coal ash impoundments in North Carolina be cleaned up. The audience was engaged, at times outraged, but also inspired by the work and commitment of their riverkeepers.

More screenings of Coal Ash Stories are happening across NC in the next couple of months! Please keep your eyes out for events in Asheville, Boone, Franklin, Goldsboro, New Bern and Sylva.

Here are the details on events happening in the next few weeks!

November 20th,  6:30pm
Jackson County Public Library
310 Keener St, Sylva NC 28779
Hosted by The Canary Coalition, Jackson County NAACP, Occupy Western NC
For more information: http://www.screeninghq.org/screenings/details/26545

December 4th, 6:30pm
Appalachian State University, Plemmons’ Student Union Rough Ridge Room (415, 4th floor)
263 Locust St, Boone, NC 28608
Hosted by Appalachian Voices, Watauga NAACP, Appalachian Educators for Social Justice, Center for Appalachian Studies, and Sustainability & Environmental Education Club – SEEC
For more information: https://www.facebook.com/events/1532666986972204/

New Bern
December 11th, 6:30pm
Craven County Public Library
400 Johnson St, New Bern NC 28560
Hosted by Carolina Nature Coalition and NC WARN
Featuring Q&A with Neuse Riverkeeper
For more information: http://www.screeninghq.org/screenings/details/26552

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