DENR pushing Duke to clear ash at three plants

Posted March 14, 2014

A coal ash pond at the former Lee Steam Station near Goldsboro sits along the Neuse River.

— State regulators said Friday that they plan to use wastewater permits to force Duke Energy to clean up the coal ash ponds at three of its North Carolina power plants.

Duke Chief Executive Lynn Good said in a Wednesday letter to Gov. Pat McCrory and Secretary of Environment and Natural Resources John Skvarla that the utility plans move the ash from ponds at plants in Gaston County and Asheville to lined pits and is considering a similar move at its Wilmington plant.

DENR said it wants to ensure those actions are taken.

"Although Duke committed to near-term actions, the response lacked the detail necessary to ensure Duke Energy abides by the commitments outlined in their letter,” Skvarla said in a statement. “Reopening these permits allows DENR to ensure that Duke Energy resolves this long-standing issue at these facilities.”

Regulators will amend the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System wastewater discharge permits for the three plants, which allow the utility to discharge coal ash basin water from storage ponds into nearby waterways.

By law, Duke gets 60 days to respond to DENR's plan to amend the permits for the Gaston County and Wilmington plants. The Asheville permit was already up for renewal, and the public will have 45 days to comment on any proposed changes.

Skvarla said Thursday that DENR would "enforce stringent timelines for fulfillment and completion of Duke Energy’s obligations to protect public health and the environment." He was dissatisfied with the lack of detail in Good's letter regarding Duke's long-term plans for its coal ash ponds.

In addition to cleaning the ash ponds at the three plants, Good said Duke would remove the ash from its Eden plan, where a ruptured stormwater pipe dumped nearly 40,000 tons of ash into the Dan River last month.

The utility plans to have plans for handling the toxic ash at its other nine coal-fired plants in North Carolina by the end of the year, she said.


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  • Jeremy Gilchrist Mar 18, 2014
    user avatar

    There is also this: http://www.camelcitydispatch.com/duke-energy-caught-dumping-toxic-wastewater-into-cape-fear-river-watershed/

  • SaveEnergyMan Mar 17, 2014

    Hard to believe that DENR could not have foreseen this possible source of pollution and done something years ago.

    I think Duke wants to take some of the ash and use it as aggregate in concrete in Charlotte. If that locks up the heavy metals, then it seems a good solution - for as much ash that you can use this way.

  • Rebelyell55 Mar 17, 2014

    Looks like all that "pushing" ain't gotten nothing done yet.

  • 42_wral_mods_suck_i'm_gone Mar 17, 2014

    View quoted thread

    Ground water test confirm contamination around ash ponds. Regardless of how you build your ponds you can't have toxins leave your site. That's the law.

    Just look at the SC Utilities that lost their court case to keep their ash pond as is. They are moving them to lined landfills.

  • baldchip Mar 17, 2014

    Duke-you can make this situation ugly-or you can make it real ugly-your choice. You can do THE RIGHT THING and clean this stuff up-quickly-with stockholder's funds-or NC can get real ugly with you.

    You are already taking a media bath-so do the right thing-NOW!!!

  • borealbob1952 Mar 14, 2014

    ---and what are they planning to do to remediate 70+ miles of the Dan River that they poisoned? These big boys are going to get away with murder- just watch.

  • Ty Shrake Mar 14, 2014
    user avatar

    View quoted thread

    Taking actions to avert possible problems is a pure expense and, for something this large in scale, very expensive. If the ash ponds met specs and passed inspections it would be hard to justify spending the money for something that *could* happen.

  • 1jalapeno Mar 14, 2014

    Hard to believe that a company like Duke Progress couldn't have foreseen that these ponds could create major environmental problems and yet doesn't have plans to deal with them. Are they that incompetent?.