Yadkin Riverkeeper® Announces Erin Brockovich Event

From: MMI Public Relations
Published: Mon May 17 2010

Yadkin Riverkeeper® is bringing International environmental activist, Erin Brockovich, to Winston-Salem on Tuesday, June 29. Wake Forest University will serve as presenting sponsor for the event. The speech by Brockovich, to be held from 7 to 8 p.m. at Brendle Recital Hall at Wake Forest University, is free and open to the public and will highlight her support for the local sustainability movement and the Yadkin River Trust, as well as her opposition to Alcoa’s relicensing plans for 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’s efforts to secure passage of the Yadkin River Trust bill that is going through the North Carolina legislature. Passage of this legislation would ensure a portion of the profits from the Yadkin Hydroelectric Project are reinvested in keeping the river clean while fostering other economic development efforts and green jobs creation. This is first-of-its-kind legislation in the country.

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/erinb. Contact 336-722-4949 with questions regarding ticket registration. There is no admittance without a ticket.

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’s mission is to respect, protect and improve the Yadkin Pee Dee River Basin through education, advocacy and action. It is aimed at creating a clean and healthy river that sustains life and is cherished by its people. To achieve this vision, it seeks to accomplish the following objectives: sustain a RIVERKEEPER® program, measurably improve water quality, reestablish native bio-diversity, preserve and enhance the forest canopy, bring legal action to enforce state and federal environmental laws, and teach and practice a "river ethic" of ecological respect to all ages. For more information, visit http://www.yadkinriverkeeper.org or call 336-293-8105.

About Dean Naujoks:
Dean Naujoks is the Yadkin Riverkeeper, employed by Yadkin Riverkeeper Inc. since the fall of 2008 to manage and implement a river advocacy program for the Yadkin Pee Dee River watershed in North Carolina that will keep it a healthy and vibrant river for residents and businesses in the long term. Yadkin Riverkeeper is a licensed member of the Waterkeeper Alliance, which connects and supports local Waterkeeper programs to provide a voice and champion clean water for waterways and their communities worldwide. A longtime water quality advocate, Naujoks became the first Upper Neuse Riverkeeper in 2001 at the nonprofit Neuse River Foundation. His job there was to monitor conditions and advocate for protection of the Neuse River from Falls Lake to Goldsboro. He was appointed by Raleigh Mayor Charles Meeker to serve on the joint government PCB Task Force to address PCB contamination in Crabtree Creek from Ward Transformer. A graduate of N.C. State, Naujoks created his own major in environmental policy and sustainable development. He also worked for the NC Wildlife Federation from 1991-1999. Naujoks has received River Network’s 2009 National "River Hero" Award on behalf of his efforts.


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