As Duke Energy shareholders met on Thursday in uptown for their annual meeting, seven Greenpeace activists were arrested for stopping a company train filled with coal from entering the Marshall Steam Station in Catawba County.
Greenpeace spokeswoman Keiller McDuff didn't know precisely how activists stopped the train but suggested that someone from the organization alerted Norfolk Southern of an "obstruction" on the track. The obstruction was a Greenpeace member waving a stop sign, McDuff said.
Other groups represented at the event included Mountainkeeper, Katuah Earth, First Radical Action for Mountain People's Survival and others, she said.
"Many of the people on that track are great environmental activists in their own right," said McDuff as she stood in front of the coal plant, with Catawba County Sherrif's officers blocking the entrance and helicopters hovering overhead.
Once the train was stopped, the activists planted long metal poles into the gravel between the track, climbed the poles and hung banners between them. Members hung from the polls until police arrived. Other activists locked themselves to the tracks using tubing but unlocked themselves when police arrived.
A third faction of protesters within the group boarded the train and hung banners from the side, some depicting smokestacks and some depicting a large Apple Inc. logo. The banners were used to advertise Greenpeace's relatively new "Clean our Cloud" movement that protests, in part, the Duke-powered Apple iCloud data center in Maiden.
"People don't realize that when they are using something as simple and convenient as iCloud, that they are using coal," McDuff said.
She said that she knows people won't stop using these devices but wants companies like Duke Energy to invest in renewable resources that are less harmful to the planet.
"It's more about the impact to the environment, but there's certainly a package of things we're concerned with," she said.