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Senate bill pushes to close NC coal ash ponds

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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- The North Carolina Senate is trying to push through legislation that will close all coal ash ponds in the state. The bill would also allow for clean-up of certain coal ash sites, including the Sutton Plant site right here in southeastern North Carolina.

Environmental activists wonder if the bill goes far enough.

The legislation Senate leaders call an aggressive plan for coal ash mitigation requires closure of all coal ash ponds in the state, and immediate clean up of certain ponds, including the Sutton Steam Plant near Wilmington.

Environmental experts say the issue here is other language in the bill that would allow certain amounts of pollution like a coal ash currently illegal to become legal.

"What this bill does is says basically we are just going to allow you to permit all of those leaks you have," Cape Fear Riverkeeper Kemp Burdette said. "So it is like getting a speeding ticket for going 85 in a 25. Rather than just getting a speeding ticket, we just decided to raise the speed limit to 85 everywhere."

The bill would also form a new coal ash commission to oversee the clean up.

The Cape Fear Riverkeeper says that short of removing all of the pollutants from the coal ash ponds and storing them in a proper and safe way, nothing will go far enough.

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