How’s this for a pack of liars and thieves taking a piss in your water?

Some enterprising locals saw an opportunity and agreed to haul ash away for a fee, hoping to find a buyer or to use it for development projects.

“It was just a great big huge hole there, and we filled it in,” said Blackwell Bennett Pierce, owner of Utilities Transport, a trucking company that hauled coal ash between 2004 and 2007 to the Arthur’s Creek disposal site in Northampton County, about 90 miles northeast of Raleigh. The site holds 480,612 cubic yards of ash, according to a county deed in the DENR records.

Plumbline Engineering, which designed the ash retention site, paid an administrative penalty of $9,154.88 in 2011 for a number of violations at Arthur’s Creek that included erosion problems and coal ash washing into a nearby creek. DENR officials say the problems have been resolved.

“We thought maybe we might use it for something one day,” Pierce said. “But there’s no use for it. Nobody wanted it.”

Research biologist Dennis Lemly, who works for Wake Forest University and the U.S. Forest Service, has studied the effects of coal ash contaminants and said dry ash storage sites are long-festering problems and overdue for stricter oversight.

“The two operative words are unregulated and mostly unmonitored,” Lemly said. “It raises the larger underlying issue with the state regulatory system.”

Problems in Nash since 2002

A Nash County site called Swift Creek has caused the most chronic environmental headaches. It accepted coal ash for more than a decade through 2003 and resulted in contamination of lead, arsenic and sulfates in shallow groundwater, a problem still awaiting a solution.