By Clarke Morrison:
ASHEVILLE — Toxic waste from the burning of coal has piled up in two unlined lagoons at Duke Energy’s Lake Julian power plant for decades with little government oversight or public attention.
And for years, one of the state’s top lawmakers has zipped by on his way from Henderson County to Raleigh unaware that those two ponds — covering nearly 100 acres — rested just beyond a stand of trees off Interstate 26.
A break in an underground wastewater pipe that caused the spill of tons of coal ash slurry into the Dan River north of Greensboro a month ago has changed that, just as it suddenly has made coal ash a front-burner issue.
“When you look at how Lake Julian sits above the interstate, believe me I can’t ride by it now without seeing a problem,” said Tom Apodaca, a Republican and chairman of the state Senate’s Rules Committee.
“It scares the hell out of me,” he said. “The Dan River thing was a wake-up call for us.”