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Toxic Coal Ash Spills Into Cape Fear River – World – Pulselive.co.ke

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On Friday, Duke Energy shut down a power plant near Wilmington after a dam breach between 100 and 200 feet wide, at the south end of Sutton Lake, allowed floodwaters to swamp two basins containing huge stockpiles of arsenic-laced ash.

Duke’s L.V. Sutton facility has been a focus of increasing concern for environmentalists and regulators since last week, when rains from Hurricane Florence caused a coal ash landfill at the site to erode, spilling waste onto a local roadway.

Coal ash is the powdery substance that remains after burning coal. The Environmental Protection Agency links the substances it contains — including heavy metals like arsenic and lead — to nervous-system problems, reproductive issues and cancer.

It was not immediately clear how much ash was released. The extent of the threat will depend on how quickly the breach can be stopped, state officials said.

A significant spill could endanger the water supply for the southeastern part of the state, which is still reeling from record-breaking flooding that has closed many of the region’s roads, including a long stretch of Interstate 95 south of the Virginia border.

And the danger of more flooding remains. The Cape Fear River is scheduled to crest Saturday morning at 31.3 feet, more than 7 feet above its historic flood stage. Water levels will remain high through Tuesday.

Coal ash is not the only pollutant to cause North Carolina woes in the wake of Florence. The state is home to 9.7 million pigs that produce 10 billion gallons of manure each year. Most of that manure is stored in large earthen lagoons; a growing number of those lagoons are flooding.

As of midday on Friday, at least 54 lagoons have discharged their waste into the environment, another 76 are at risk of doing so, and six have some form of structural damage that may have led to the release of pig feces. The number is expected to increase.

State inspectors, who conducted a drone survey of the area on Friday, said there appeared to be “no structural issues” with the basins’ inner containment walls, or impoundments, said Bridget Munger, spokeswoman for the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality.

They are monitoring the situation in “real time” and plan to conduct an investigation into the causes of the failure once the situation has stabilized, Munger said in an email.

“This is a crisis that we’re addressing but it’s in the context of a huge state emergency, so that’s just part of the big picture for us,” Munger said.

Gov. Roy Cooper of North Carolina said in a statement on Friday that, “a thorough investigation of events will soon follow to ensure that Duke Energy is held responsible for any environmental impacts by their coal ash facilities.”

A representative for the Environmental Protection Agency said the agency had not been out to the site, and that it would lend its support to state officials at their request.

As state officials fretted over the plant, residents and workers in the surrounding area were impatient to get back to their daily routines and were concerned about potential damage.

“The dam really worries me. The idea that it could spill over and spread chemicals is really concerning,” said Charles Holliday, 27, who was clearing debris from his family’s yard in the small town of Navassa, the nearest residential area to the plant. “This whole area has a lot of industrial plants and chemicals and that kind of thing. So you add it all up and, yes, it’s something we are all going to get a little panicked about.”

The river has already spread hundreds of yards beyond its banks, turning the piney flats west of Wilmington into a muddy lagoon punctured by tilting trees and half-submerged railroad bridges.

The plant itself, cordoned off by security, but visible from a highway overpass, was covered by a thin pool of water, with the area closest to the lake appearing to be the most inundated.

Peter Harrison, a lawyer with Earthjustice, an environmental nonprofit, took a boat on the river to see the site himself. He said there were multiple places where the dam around the lake had breached, and the lake water was pouring into the river. From what he could see, he added, the lake water appeared full of coal ash.

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“You can just see that swirling down the river for like miles and miles,” Harrison said.

Avner Vengosh, a professor of earth and ocean sciences at Duke University, said, “We’ll probably never know how much has spilled into the river.” Because the spill stems from large-scale flooding over a wide area, it’s difficult to calculate how much ash is entering the river.

The breach of the dam imperils two unlined coal ash ponds on site, which contain a combined 2.1 million cubic yards of coal ash, according to a report prepared for Duke Energy this year. That amount of coal ash would fill a large sports stadium.

Scrutiny of coal ash has increased since 2008, when the Kingston Fossil Plant in Harriman, Tennessee, spilled 5.4 million cubic yards of coal ash into the environment. The cleanup cost more than $1 billion.

Last week, the storm caused a coal ash landfill at the Duke plant to erode, spilling about 2,000 cubic yards of the ash onto an adjacent roadway.

The spill was quickly cleaned up, the company said. But the Waterkeeper Alliance, an environmental group, disputed that, saying at least some of the coal ash remains in the area.

In 2014 Duke Energy’s Dan River plant in Eden, North Carolina, spilled 39,000 tons of coal ash into the Dan River, prompting the state to require Duke to order all of Duke’s coal ash ponds closed. That process is not yet complete.

In May 2015, the Justice Department announced a $102 million fine against Duke Energy after the utility pleaded guilty to nine criminal violations of the Clean Water Act at several of its North Carolina facilities.

The fine included a $68 million criminal penalty and $34 million for environmental projects and land conservation to benefit rivers and wetlands in North Carolina and Virginia. Four of the nine charges were related to the Dan River spill. The other violations were based on allegations of historical violations at the company’s other operations.

The L.V. Sutton plant now burns natural gas, but until 2013 it housed a three-unit, 575-megawatt coal-fired plant. The coal ash from that operation remains on site, with the oldest of the ash basins dating back to 1971.

The coal ash landfill at Duke’s L.V. Sutton plant, which spilled last week, was supposed to provide secure storage for the site’s two coal ash ponds, but the fact that it is already failing now has some environmental groups questioning its structural integrity.

“You know the thing with the Tennessee Valley river spill, and the same thing with the Dan River spill, a lot of that ash was never recovered,” said Lisa Evans, a lawyer with Earthjustice. “If you spill into a lake and that lake water continues to spill into that river rapidly you’re going to have maybe even a bigger clean up problem.”

“If you have 2 million tons of ash going into that lake,” Evans added, “that lake is dead.”

This article originally appeared in The New York Times.

Glenn Thrush and Kendra Pierre-Louis © 2018 The New York Times



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Sordid tale of the bank ‘that would bribe God’

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Bank of Credit and Commerce International. August 1991. [File, Standard]

“This bank would bribe God.” These words of a former employee of the disgraced Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI) sum up one of the most rotten global financial institutions.
BCCI pitched itself as a top bank for the Third World, but its spectacular collapse would reveal a web of transnational corruption and a playground for dictators, drug lords and terrorists.
It was one of the largest banks cutting across 69 countries and its aftermath would cause despair to innocent depositors, including Kenyans.
BCCI, which had $20 billion (Sh2.1 trillion in today’s exchange rate) assets globally, was revealed to have lost more than its entire capital.
The bank was founded in 1972 by the crafty Pakistani banker Agha Hasan Abedi.
He was loved in his homeland for his charitable acts but would go on to break every rule known to God and man.
In 1991, the Bank of England (BoE) froze its assets, citing large-scale fraud running for several years. This would see the bank cease operations in multiple countries. The Luxembourg-based BCCI was 77 per cent owned by the Gulf Emirate of Abu Dhabi.  
BoE investigations had unearthed laundering of drugs money, terrorism financing and the bank boasted of having high-profile customers such as Panama’s former strongman Manual Noriega as customers.
The Standard, quoting “highly placed” sources reported that Abu Dhabi ruler Sheikh Zayed Sultan would act as guarantor to protect the savings of Kenyan depositors.
The bank had five branches countrywide and panic had gripped depositors on the state of their money.
Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) would then move to appoint a manager to oversee the operations of the BCCI operations in Kenya.
It sent statements assuring depositors that their money was safe.
The Standard reported that the Sheikh would be approaching the Kenyan and other regional subsidiaries of the bank to urge them to maintain operations and assure them of his personal support.
It was said that contact between CBK and Abu Dhabi was “likely.”
This came as the British Ambassador to the UAE Graham Burton implored the gulf state to help compensate Britons, and the Indian government also took similar steps.
The collapse of BCCI was, however, not expect to badly hit the Kenyan banking system. This was during the sleazy 1990s when Kenya’s banking system was badly tested. It was the era of high graft and “political banks,” where the institutions fraudulently lent to firms belonging or connected to politicians, who were sometimes also shareholders.
And even though the impact was expected to be minimal, it was projected that a significant number of depositors would transfer funds from Asian and Arab banks to other local institutions.
“Confidence in Arab banking has taken a serious knock,” the “highly placed” source told The Standard.
BCCI didn’t go down without a fight. It accused the British government of a conspiracy to bring down the Pakistani-run bank.  The Sheikh was said to be furious and would later engage in a protracted legal battle with the British.
“It looks to us like a Western plot to eliminate a successful Muslim-run Third World Bank. We know that it often acted unethically. But that is no excuse for putting it out of business, especially as the Sultan of Abu Dhabi had agreed to a restructuring plan,” said a spokesperson for British Asians.
A CBK statement signed by then-Deputy Governor Wanjohi Murithi said it was keenly monitoring affairs of the mother bank and would go to lengths to protect Kenyan depositors.
“In this respect, the CBK has sought and obtained the assurance of the branch’s management that the interests of depositors are not put at risk by the difficulties facing the parent company and that the bank will meet any withdrawal instructions by depositors in the normal course of business,” said Mr Murithi.
CBK added that it had maintained surveillance of the local branch and was satisfied with its solvency and liquidity.
This was meant to stop Kenyans from making panic withdrawals.
For instance, armed policemen would be deployed at the bank’s Nairobi branch on Koinange Street after the bank had announced it would shut its Kenyan operations.
In Britain, thousands of businesses owned by British Asians were on the verge of financial ruin following the closure of BCCI.
Their firms held almost half of the 120,000 bank accounts registered with BCCI in Britain. 
The African Development Bank was also not spared from this mess, with the bulk of its funds deposited and BCCI and stood to lose every coin.
Criminal culture
In Britain, local authorities from Scotland to the Channel Islands are said to have lost over £100 million (Sh15.2 billion in today’s exchange rate).
The biggest puzzle remained how BCCI was allowed by BoE and other monetary regulation authorities globally to reach such levels of fraudulence.
This was despite the bank being under tight watch owing to the conviction of some of its executives on narcotics laundering charges in the US.
Coast politician, the late Shariff Nassir, would claim that five primary schools in Mombasa lost nearly Sh1 million and appealed to then Education Minister George Saitoti to help recover the savings. Then BoE Governor Robin Leigh-Pemberton condemned it as so deeply immersed in fraud that rescue or recovery – at least in Britain – was out of the question.
“The culture of the bank is criminal,” he said. The bank was revealed to have targeted the Third World and had created several “institutional devices” to promote its operations in developing countries.
These included the Third World Foundation for Social and Economic Studies, a British-registered charity.
“It allowed it to cultivate high-level contacts among international statesmen,” reported The Observer, a British newspaper.
BCCI also arranged an annual Third World lecture and a Third World prize endowment fund of about $10 million (Sh1 billion in today’s exchange rate).
Winners of the annual prize had included Nelson Mandela (1985), sir Bob Geldof (1986) and Archbishop Desmond Tutu (1989).
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Monitor water pumps remotely via your phone

Tracking and monitoring motor vehicles is not new to Kenyans. Competition to install affordable tracking devices is fierce but essential for fleet managers who receive reports online and track vehicles from the comfort of their desk.

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Agricultural Development Corporation Chief Accountant Gerald Karuga on the Spot Over Fraud –

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Gerald Karuga, the acting chief accountant at the Agricultural Development Corporation (ADC), is on the spot over fraud in land dealings.

ADC was established in 1965 through an Act of Parliament Cap 346 to facilitate the land transfer programme from European settlers to locals after Kenya gained independence.

Karuga is under fire for allegedly aiding a former powerful permanent secretary in the KANU era Benjamin Kipkulei to deprive ADC beneficiaries of their land in Naivasha.

Kahawa Tungu understands that the aggrieved parties continue to protest the injustice and are now asking the Ethics and Anti-corruption Commission (EACC) and the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) to probe Karuga.

A source who spoke to Weekly Citizen publication revealed that Managing Director Mohammed Dulle is also involved in the mess at ADC.

Read: Ministry of Agriculture Apologizes After Sending Out Tweets Portraying the President in bad light

Dulle is accused of sidelining a section of staffers in the parastatal.

The sources at ADC intimated that Karuga has been placed strategically at ADC to safeguard interests of many people who acquired the corporations’ land as “donations” from former President Daniel Arap Moi.

Despite working at ADC for many years Karuga has never been transferred, a trend that has raised eyebrows.

“Karuga has worked here for more than 30 years and unlike other senior officers in other parastatals who are transferred after promotion or moved to different ministries, for him, he has stuck here for all these years and we highly suspect that he is aiding people who were dished out with big chunks of land belonging to the corporation in different parts of the country,” said the source.

In the case of Karuga safeguarding Kipkulei’s interests, workers at the parastatals and the victims who claim to have lost their land in Naivasha revealed that during the Moi regime some senior officials used dubious means to register people as beneficiaries of land without their knowledge and later on colluded with rogue land officials at the Ministry of Lands to acquire title deeds in their names instead of those of the benefactors.

Read Also: Galana Kulalu Irrigation Scheme To Undergo Viability Test Before Being Privatised

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“We have information that Karuga has benefitted much from Kipkulei through helping him and this can be proved by the fact that since the matter of the Naivasha land began, he has been seen changing and buying high-end vehicles that many people of his rank in government can’t afford to buy or maintain,” the source added.

“He is even building a big apartment for rent in Ruiru town.”

The wealthy officer is valued at over Sh1.5 billion in prime properties and real estate.

Last month, more than 100 squatters caused scenes in Naivasha after raiding a private firm owned by Kipkulei.

The squatters, who claimed to have lived on the land for more than 40 years, were protesting take over of the land by a private developer who had allegedly bought the land from the former PS.

They pulled down a three-kilometre fence that the private developed had erected.

The squatters claimed that the former PS had not informed them that he had sold the land and that the developer was spraying harmful chemicals on the grass affecting their livestock and homes built on a section of the land.

Read Also: DP Ruto Wants NCPB And Other Agricultural Bodies Merged For Efficiency

Naivasha Deputy County Commissioner Kisilu Mutua later issued a statement warning the squatters against encroaching on Kipkuleir’s land.

“They are illegally invading private land. We shall not allow the rule of the jungle to take root,” warned Mutua.

Meanwhile, a parliamentary committee recently demanded to know identities of 10 faceless people who grabbed 30,350 acres of land belonging to the parastatal, exposing the rot at the corporation.

ADC Chairman Nick Salat, who doubles up as the KANU party Secretary-General, denied knowledge of the individuals and has asked DCI to probe the matter.

Email your news TIPS to [email protected] or WhatsApp +254708677607. You can also find us on Telegram through www.t.me/kahawatungu

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William Ruto eyes Raila Odinga Nyanza backyard

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Deputy President William Ruto will next month take his ‘hustler nation’ campaigns to his main rival, ODM leader Raila Odinga’s Nyanza backyard, in an escalation of the 2022 General Election competition.

Acrimonious fall-out

Development agenda

Won’t bear fruit

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