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Shareholders, protesters speak out to Duke Energy's board

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. -

Some Duke Energy investors as well as protesters pushed the utility's board of directors Thursday to look into issues surrounding a massive coal ash spill that dumped toxic sludge into a 70-mile stretch of a North Carolina river.

Duke's chief executive touted the company's accomplishments over the past year, but some shareholders focused on the spill.

Sixteen people spoke before the company cut off questions. Many criticized Duke for the spill, for not cleaning up coal ash pits and for failing to deal with climate change issues.

About 200 protesters gathered in front of the Duke Energy headquarters Thursday morning, many of them carrying signs. One man created a makeshift drum from what appeared to be a mallet and a water cooler bottle.

The Rev. William Barber, president of the North Carolina chapter of the NAACP, told the protesters that the facts need to be brought out in the open. Barber said many of the coal ash pits are located in rural areas around minority communities.

Barber says Duke, rather than the public, should pay for the cleanup.

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