@NCCapitol

@NCCapitol

DENR officials examining crack in Moncure coal ash dam

Posted March 20

An aerial photo by Waterkeeper Alliance shows Duke Energy pumping wastewater from a coal ash pond at a retired Moncure power plant into a tributary of the Cape Fear River.

— Environmental regulators and Duke Energy officials are responding to reports of a crack in an earthen berm holding a coal ash pond back from the banks of the Cape Fear River in Moncure, officials with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources said Thursday. 

Duke officials reported the crack at 4 p.m., according to a new release from the department. No water was flowing through the earthen dam, said Steve McEvoy, state dam safety engineer with the state Division of Energy, Mineral and Land Resources.

This the same dam where, earlier in the day, DENR officials cited Duke Energy for illegally pumping water into a nearby stream in order to carry out maintenance on the pond. 

According to a DENR news release: 

"Staff members from the Division of Energy, Mineral and Land Resources are driving to the facility to determine the cause of the crack and to determine whether the crack is a threat to the integrity of the dam and what can be done to fix the crack.

"“From our first reports from the utility and based upon photographs, the dam does not appear to be in imminent danger of failure,” McEvoy said. “The crack doesn’t look like it has progressed deeply into the downstream face of the dam.”

"The dam is considered a high hazard dam because of the potential environmental damage if it were to fail. The dam is part of a coal ash impoundment, which was constructed in 1985 and is used to impound coal ash, which is waste generated when coal is turned into electricity.

"An on-site canal that is on the west side of the dam eventually flows to the Cape Fear River."

No home or roadways are in the path of where water would flow from the dam if it failed.

Late in the day, Gov. Pat McCrory weighed in the crack.

"This is the latest in a series of troubling incidents at Duke Energy facilities over the past few months, and it's time for Duke Energy to come out of the shadows and to publicly address this growing problem," McCrory said. "Initial reports show that the dam does not appear to be in imminent danger of failure. We are going to continue to enforce the law and take appropriate action to address this situation. We need an explanation from Duke Energy as soon as possible – not only to us, but to the people of North Carolina."

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  • westernwake1 Mar 21, 11:40 a.m.

    The Duke Energy fiasco continues...

  • ligonmaterial23 Mar 21, 10:42 a.m.

    Love how the worker is taking a photo while his is getting taken . I HIGHLY doubt this would have been made public had it not been for the volunteer river watch group that found them pumping and got the law called on them . The cape fear is bad enough then we got these guys pumping this mess in it ?

  • Mar 21, 10:14 a.m.

    61 million gallons later...... I sure hope all the folks downstream that use the Cape Fear for their drinking water don't get too upset over this little incident. At least not until the strange lumps and stuff begin showing up on their bodies. But Duke wouldn't do anything that hurt consumer confidence, because competition would drive everyone to their competitors. (or so say the experts on regulation). Oh wait.......

  • anotherbabyboomer Mar 21, 9:04 a.m.

    I bet there is a lot more we don't know happening at other ash ponds. I hope they get this under control and prevent it from happening in the future to other water supplies. This is a big mess that can no longer be ignored or paid off.

  • 42 Mar 21, 8:59 a.m.

    "This is the latest in a series of troubling incidents at Duke Energy facilities over the past few months, and it's time for Duke Energy to come out of the shadows and to publicly address this growing problem," McCrory said.

    Wasn't McCrory a big player while working for Duke? 29 years? Nice little company you help create Pat.

  • scubagirl2 Mar 21, 8:59 a.m.

    This just keeps on getting worse...DUKE ENERGY you are nothing but lying crooks. FIX THIS CARP NOW!!!!

  • baldchip Mar 21, 8:42 a.m.

    DUKE-FIX IT TODAY!!! THE HEAT IS ON!!

  • Oh2BBackInNC Mar 20, 7:37 p.m.

    The state of North Carolina is about to be awash in coal ash. Head to Kroger; get your bread and milk.