Yadkin Riverkeeper® Announces Erin Brockovich Event
International Environmental Activist Addresses Sustainability and the Yadkin Hydroelectric Project
Brockovich was a legal clerk who, despite the lack of formal law school education, was instrumental in constructing a case against the Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) of California in 1993. Since the release of the 2000 film that shares her story and name, she has started a consulting firm and is currently working on a variety of important environmental projects, including a class action lawsuit involving Alcoa’s Australian operations. In her own words, her philosophy involves being “an advocate for awareness, the truth, and a person’s right to know. I believe that in the absence of the truth, all of us stand helpless to defend ourselves, our families and our health, which is the greatest gift we have.”
Brockovich’s presentation is in conjunction with Yadkin Riverkeeper’
Dean Naujoks, the Yadkin Riverkeeper, said he is honored Brockovich will be coming to speak in the Triad. “Erin is a household name when people think of environmental activism, and I am so glad she has agreed to visit us,” said Naujoks. “She is aware of the threats facing our environment. Considering that 200,000 residents of Winston-Salem and the surrounding areas rely on the Yadkin River for water to drink, and knowing her opposition to Alcoa for its activities harming locals in Australia, I am sure she will discuss in detail the Yadkin Hydroelectric Project and why it would be harmful for us if Alcoa remained in charge of it.”
Brockovich’s presentation is free and open to the public, but space is limited and reservations are required by registering at www.yadkinriverkeeper.org/
About the Yadkin Hydroelectric Project
Alcoa’s application with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) for another 50-year license for the Project, which consists of four reservoirs, dams and hydropower stations along a 38-mile stretch of the Yadkin River, is on hold following a successful stay requested by Yadkin Riverkeeper Inc. and the Stanly County Board of Commissioners in May 2009 to prevent issuing a 401 Water Quality Certification from the state until a full appeal is heard from both sides about water quality at the Project. Alcoa must receive this 401 certification before FERC will consider approving its application. Yadkin Riverkeeper, the commissioners and other environmental leaders oppose Alcoa’s efforts because they believe the multinational firm exploits the Project for tens of millions in corporate profits from hydroelectricity sold outside the state while it refuses to correct multiple contamination issues it has created in the water and land around the dams.
Since winning its last 50-year license from FERC to control the Yadkin Hydroelectric Project, Alcoa has had years of water quality problems which it has failed to address, including a 2009 report that links cancer-causing PCBs found in Badin Lake, a reservoir which is part of the Project, with the PCBs found in Alcoa’s old smelting operations near the lake. Other contaminants have been found in Badin Lake, as well.
In addition, Alcoa has had longstanding problems with dissolved oxygen levels in the Yadkin River and extensive pollution problems in High Rock Lake that were created when the company built the Yadkin River Project. The company has promised to install equipment and perform maintenance to address these problems, but so far has taken no action at the Project despite repeated requests by Stanly County commissioners that Alcoa correct its problems. Alcoa maintains it can and should receive its license without formally committing to make the water quality improvements needed to meet state and federal guidelines for the Project.
About the Yadkin Riverkeeper:
The Yadkin Riverkeeper’
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