Frequently Asked Questions
Well. Had you ever heard about coal ash before the Tennessee Valley Authority spill in December 2008? Me, either.
Now I know that it is the second-largest waste stream in the country, that it's federally unregulated, and that many states don't regulate it, either. There are more than 600 coal plants in the United States and many of them have coal ash ponds -- where coal ash is stored as a wet slurry, often in man-made ponds.
As humans have been doing since the dawn of time, we tend to bury our trash -- out of sight, out of mind. Now, roughly 60 years later, our communities have moved closer to the ponds; many neighborhoods are literally right across the street. We also know that the groundwater beneath many of the coal ash ponds is contaminated and that the ponds usually drain into our rivers, streams and lakes which are often also our drinking water sources.
In the summer of 2009, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency released a list of more than 40 high-hazard coal ash ponds. As it turns out, I live very close to two of them and my home city, Charlotte, N.C., has four of them -- all on the Catawba River, which is considered an "endangered" river. (Coal ash trivia: North Carolina has more high hazard coal ash ponds than any other state.)
In November 2011, the EPA announced that it is expanding that list of ponds. Check out their website to see if the ponds near you have been inspected and how the government has rated them: http://www.epa.gov/osw/nonhaz/industrial/special/fossil/surveys2/index.htmLast updated:
I've been researching and writing about coal ash for years in Charlotte, N.C., and am recognized as an expert on the topic and frequently asked to speak on the issue.
I'm known for my straight-forward, in-depth reporting that goes beyond press releases as I seek to discover what people really think and feel about the issues.Last updated:
Investigative journalism is expensive, as is a nationwide tour.
Kickstarter campaigns aren't free, either: 8 to 10 percent of the total raised will be skimmed for fees and the "rewards" cost money, too.
As the project moves along, I'll post updates that detail how much it will cost to travel to different states and well as basic details like how much it costs to fill my car's gas tank, how far that tank will take me, and how many tanks it will take to get back and forth across the country. Fortunately, I drive a hybrid that gets nearly 600 miles per tank.Last updated:
Kickstarter allows the public to get involved and to vote on the projects they think should be supported. What better way to get people engaged in the issue than to ask them to invest in it? And, what's more important than water -- something we have to have to live.
My hope is people will not only back the project but that they will become invested in the issue and want to learn more about it. That's why a big focus of the project is the website, http://www.coalashchronicles.com.Last updated:
So far, I've invested $10,000 of my personal savings.Last updated:
May 7, 2012.Last updated:
Then I won't receive any funds and backers will not receive their rewards.Last updated:
The fundraising will continue and no one will be charged for their pledges until May 7.Last updated:
In addition to your reward and this campaign, your pledge will help cover travel and equipment expenses, pro-photography, research and for the maintenance of the website, http://CoalAshChronicles.com
Your pledge will enable me to investigate the various angles of the coal ash issue. I'll share what I find with the world so we, the people, can make an informed decision about whether or not coal ash should be regulated.Last updated:
J Henry Fair is a world-renowned photographer known, in part, for his "Industrial Scars" project.
He has expressed interest in sharing his photography and in being the project's art director.
Watch his TEDxBerlin talk http://youtu.be/b5yqYNiBzfc and check out IndustrialScars.com.Last updated:
The first phase will go live in mid- to late-April.Last updated:
Everywhere there is a coal ash pond, dump or landfill.
I'll spend time in those communities and with the people impacted by coal ash -- citizens, industry workers, environmentalists and policy makers, offering updates on the journey at http://www.coalashchronicles.com/.Last updated:
In Sept. 2012, I'll host a forum on coal ash during the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte for http://theppl.us/.Last updated:
Here are three of the stories I've written about coal ash:
"http://www.charlottemagazine.com/Charlotte-Magazine/February-2010/One-Man-and-a-River/" (Charlotte magazine, February 2010; winner of the 2011 Gold Gamma award for profile writing)
"http://clclt.com/charlotte/is-coal-ash-poisoning-charlotte-area-drinking-water/Content?oid=2157013" (Creative Loafing cover story, Sept. 8, 2010)
"http://clclt.com/charlotte/government-oversight-remains-grossly-inadequate-in-coal-ash-waste-control/Content?oid=2473158" (Creative Loafing cover story, Sept. 13, 2011)Last updated:
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