Moncure, N.C. — 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."