Protesters demonstrate outside Duke Energy building slyttle@charlotteobserver.comMay 1, 2014 

A lowd crowd of people protesting Duke Energy’s activities packed the sidewalk outide its corporate headquarters in uptown Charlotte Thursday morning as people arrived for the company’s shareolder meeting.

Protesters carried signs and pulled “crime scene” tape along the sidewalk.. They chanted and banged drums. One woman dressed up like they Statue of Liberty.

Much of their ire was focused on Duke’s response to a Feb. 2 coal ash spill in the Dan River.

“They have poisoned the water and want us to pay for the cleanup,” said Ruth Zalph of Chapel Hill, echoing a sentiment shared by many of the protesters. Zalph called herself a “raging granny.”

Duke officials say they have spent $15 million to clean the Dan River spill. A Duke spokesman, Tom Williams, wa

Sings included:

Environmentalists say they are upset with .

A group calling itself Appalachian Voices said participants in the protest will include the Rev. William Barber, president of the North Carolina NAACP.

Environmental groups argue that Duke Energy should remove wet coal ash from Belews Creek and from its 32 other impoundments in North Carolina. Appalachian Voices and other Duke Energy critics contend the company should move the coal ash to landfills that are not near water sources.

They also say that cleaning all 33 impoundments in North Carolina would cost $10 billion.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg police officers kept watch over the peaceful demonstration. City officials declared the shareholders meeting an Extraordinary Event, which gives police additional powers to regulate items that people can bring with them into the area near the Duke headquarters.

Lyttle: 704-358-6107; Twitter: @slyttle

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