By Steve Lyttle / Charlotte Observer
Six people were arrested Thursday morning in Catawba County after a group of protesters from Greenpeace and three other organizations blocked a train from entering Duke Energy’s steam-powered plant in Catawba County by chaining themselves to the tracks.
The group aimed the protest at Duke Energy, for its use of coal-powered plants, and at technology giant Apple. Leaders of the action said they are protesting Apple because it is using Duke Energy power for the expansion of its data center at Maiden in Catawba County.
“The group was able to stop the train from passing by,” said Molly Dorozenski, a Greenpeace spokesperson.
The Catawba County Sheriff’s Office confirmed that arrests were made. According to reports from the scene, four people who had chained themselves to the tracks were taken into custody, along with two others at the scene.
The action came at the same time as Greenpeace demonstrators were outside Duke Energy’s corporate headquarters in Charlotte’s uptown, protesting during the company’s shareholders meeting.
Dorozenski said the incident began Thursday morning when a train carrying coal arrived at the Marshall Steam Station. She said four activists chained themselves to the tracks, to prevent the train from delivering coal. She said other protesters put the Apple logo on train cars, to show the group’s belief that Apple is profiting by Duke Energy’s use of coal.
Greenpeace contends the use of coal is creating an environmental hazard, and that coal mining is damaging to the ecology of the Appalachia region.
Joining Greenpeace in blocking the train were members of Radical Action for Mountain People’s Survival (RAMPS), Katuah Earth First! and Keepers of the Mountains Foundation, according to Greenpeace.
“Duke is using data center expansion in North Carolina, like Apple’s, to justify reinvesting in old coal-fired power plants and even worse — as an excuse to build new coal and nuclear plants,” said Gabe Wisnieweski, Greenpeace’s USA Coal Campaign director.
“The climate and communities throughout Appalachia and North Carolina are paying the price for Apple and Duke’s short-sighted decisions,” he added.