Deputies arrest Greenpeace activists following protest - FOX Carolina 21

Deputies arrest Greenpeace activists following protest

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Greenpeace placed a banner on a power plant smokestack that reads, "Duke Energy, the climate needs real progress." (Feb. 13, 2012/FOX Carolina) Greenpeace placed a banner on a power plant smokestack that reads, "Duke Energy, the climate needs real progress." (Feb. 13, 2012/FOX Carolina)
ASHEVILLE, NC (FOX Carolina) -

Buncombe County Emergency Management crews were called to a local power plant Monday morning during a protest by environmentalists.

Greenpeace activists said they were protesting "the destruction and pollution caused by coal at the Progress Asheville Power Station" Monday morning.

According to Greenpeace, protestors secured themselves to the coal loader and conveyors at the Progress Energy facility in Arden.

SLIDESHOW: Greenpeace protests at power plant

"This plant runs on destroyed mountains, it spews out air pollution, it causes climate change and it poisons the water and the earth," said Greenpeace climate campaigner and activist Robert Gardner. "If Duke merges with Progress, the new owners have a responsibility to the people of North Carolina to move to clean energy."

Employees at the power station said they do not have media people on site to speak about the protestors.

Progress Energy tweeted about the protests, saying protestors attached themselves to plant equipment, including the smokestacks.

The power company said multiple local and state law enforcement agencies responded to the plant and they were working closely with them to "protect the people and plant assets."

Progress Energy said their primary goals revolved around safety, protecting "the trespassers to first responders, as this is large and dangerous equipment," and protecting the equipment and ensuring they "can continue to provide reliable electricity for Western NC."

Lt. Randy Sorrells, with the Buncombe County Sheriff's Office, said 16 protestors were arrested on trespassing charges and they worked with emergency management and the fire department to get the activists down safely.

MORE PHOTOS: Deputies arrest 16 protestors

Sorrells said they were in communication with the climbers, who were very cordial, and were working to get them all to surrender and bring them down safely before dark.

As their investigation continues, Sorrells said more charges could be filed related to the protest affecting production of power. He said there are federal statutes related, but it would be up to the US Attorney's Office to review the incident and file their own charges.

On Tuesday, deputies said all 16 protestors were charged with charged with misdemeanor trespassing. They were all released on a $1000 secured bond and given a court date in District Court.

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