DANBURY -- Many spoke against the draft classification of the coal ash pond at Duke Energy's Belews Creek Steam Station in Stokes County on Thursday. 

This was the 13 of 14 public meetings the Department Of Environmental Quality held this month around the state.

The DEQ is getting feedback to guide the classification process of 33 coal ash ponds in North Carolina. This is part of the Coal Ash Management Act of 2014 to permanently close all of the coal ash ponds in the state by Dec. 1, 2029. 

A coal ash pond is designated as low, intermediate or high risk based on scientific data. The classification determines the method and time line for closure of the coal ash ponds. 

The criteria DEQ uses to assess the coal ash pond’s threat includes the coal ash pond’s impact to surface water, impact to ground water and the structural integrity of the coal ash storage structure to classify the basin.

The DEQ designated the Belews site coal ash pond as low or intermediate risk. However, speakers said one of the largest basins in the state is high risk.

"Do not let this community go down," resident, Dorris Smith said. "We've been here too long. We want to stay here. We love this place."

An official classification by DEQ  for the Belews Creek site coal ash pond is expected by early summer.