Coal-Ash Contamination

NC Conservation Issues Near and Far
Coal-ash Contamination and the Progress Energy Plant in Skyland
10 AM, Friday, May 10, 2013
Tuton Hall, Trinity Episcopal Church

Free and Open to the Public

Presented by The French Broad River Garden Club Foundation

Two attorneys from the Southern Environmental Law Center will be discussing conservation issues facing Western North Carolina and the state on May 10, 2013 at a free and public meeting in downtown Asheville. Mary Maclean Asbill, senior attorney with the SELC’s Chapel Hill office, and DJ Gerken, managing attorney for the Asheville office, will present a wide range of topics facing North Carolinians.

Among the issues facing Western North Carolina: the proposed logging project in Pisgah National Forest, the over-development of land near our trout streams, and the hot topic of coal-ash contamination produced by the local Progress (soon to be Duke) Energy Plant just south of Asheville.

According to the SELC website, coal ash pools near Asheville are leaking thousands of gallons of waste water into creeks feeding the French Broad River, bypassing the on-site treatment system. Containing arsenic, mercury, thallium, selenium, and other contaminants, the waste poses a cancer risk 900 times above acceptable levels, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. According to the SELC site, the organization is “…using its law and policy skills to force our region’s utilities to clean up their waste sites and to store coal ash in ways that protect water quality and public health.”

A native of Greensboro, NC, Mary Maclean Asbill has practiced environmental law for twenty years, including private practices in both Atlanta and Raleigh, and was the Director of the Turner Environmental Law Clinic at Emory University School of Law from 2003 to 2007. Having worked in the Atlanta office of SELC earlier in her career, she recently re-joined the organization in Chapel Hill.

A native of Asheville, DJ Gerken earned his BA in economics from Davidson College and then pursued a joint law degree and Masters in Urban and Environmental Planning from the University of Virginia. After clerking for a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, DJ practiced as a litigation associate with Shea & Gardner in Washington, DC before moving back to Asheville in 2004 to join the SELC.

The French Broad River Garden Club Foundation was founded in 1927 and has been a member of the Garden Club of America since 1930. Dedicated to environmental and horticultural education, the Foundation awards scholarships annually.
Press contact: Elizabeth Brown at or 777-1830