Accessibility/Mobile Features
Skip Navigation
Skip to Content
Editorial News
Business
Classified Sites

The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

NC regulators weighing whether to force Duke Energy to move coal ash dump away from Dan River

RALEIGH, N.C. - North Carolina regulators say they may force Duke Energy to move a pair of leaky coal ash dumps, more than three weeks after a massive spill coated 70 miles of the Dan River in toxic grey sludge.

The state Department of Environment and Natural Resources said Tuesday it plans to reopen Duke's wastewater discharge permit and consider changes that would require the company to remove its remaining coal ash from the site at Eden near the Virginia line to a lined landfill away from the river.

The agency's statement makes no indication whether similar permitting changes are under consideration for Duke's other 13 dumps in North Carolina.

"We are taking swift and appropriate action to address a catastrophic failure at the Dan River power plant," said Tom Reeder, director of the N.C. Division of Water Resources. "Based on our investigation of this spill, one option under consideration right now is to eliminate all coal ash waste discharges coming from this facility and require that Duke Energy move the coal ash waste stored onsite to a lined landfill away from any waterways."

The state agency is required by law to give Duke Energy 60 days to respond to the decision to reopen the discharge permit.

"We will respond to the state and work to determine the most appropriate resolution," said Duke spokeswoman Lisa Hoffmann. "As we have stated, we're taking another look at how we manage ash basins."

If the state does move to force Duke to relocate its coal ash pits in Eden, it would mark the first time state regulators have required the company to move its toxic waste away from rivers or lakes.

After regulators failed to act for years on evidence of groundwater contamination leeching from Duke's unlined ash dumps, a coalition of citizens groups tried in 2013 to use the U.S. Clean Water Act to sue Duke in federal court last year over the company's groundwater pollution.

The state agency then intervened three times to use its authority to issue violations and take the case to state court, where officials quickly negotiated a settlement that would have fined Duke $99,111 with no requirement that the $50 billion company actually clean up its pollution. The citizens groups opposed the deal, saying it shielded Duke from far harsher penalties it might have faced in federal court.

After The Associated Press reported on the proposed settlement two weeks ago, the state asked a judge to put the deal on hold. Federal prosecutors have opened a criminal investigation in the aftermath of the spill, issuing more than 20 subpoenas to Duke and state regulators.

As recently as last week, Gov. Pat McCrory and state environmental Sec. John Skvarla had suggested that requiring Duke to move its coal ash away from the state's waterways might actually do more harm than good. McCrory worked at Duke Energy 28 years before running for governor.

Pressed by the AP and others, Skvarla's agency was unable to provide a single real-world example or academic study showing that the removal of toxic coal ash was harmful to the environment.

___

Follow Associated Press writer Michael Biesecker at Twitter.com/mbieseck

  • Rate this Rate This Star Icon
  • This article has not yet been rated.
  • We want you to tell us what you think of our articles. If the story moves you, compels you to act or tells you something you didn’t know, mark it high. If you thought it was well written, do the same. If it doesn’t meet your standards, mark it accordingly.

    You can also register and/or login to the site and join the conversation by leaving a comment.

    Rate it yourself by rolling over the stars and clicking when you reach your desired rating. We want you to tell us what you think of our articles. If the story moves you, compels you to act or tells you something you didn’t know, mark it high.

Sort by: Newest to Oldest | Oldest to Newest | Most Popular 0 Commentscomment icon

You can comment on most stories on brandonsun.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is register and/or login and you can join the conversation and give your feedback.

There are no comments at the moment. Be the first to post a comment below.

Post Your Commentcomment icon

Comment
  • You have characters left

The Brandon Sun does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. Comments are moderated before publication. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

Brandon Sun Business Directory
Submit a Random Act of Kindness
Why Not Minot?
Welcome to Winnipeg

Social Media

Canadian Mortgage Rates