Duke Energy denies stormwater violations
Posted March 27, 2014
Raleigh, N.C. — Duke Energy is asking the state Department of Environment and Natural Resources to rescind six notices of violation over stormwater discharges.
The notices were issued by DENR on Feb. 28, four weeks after the massive coal ash spill at Duke's Dan River plant.
According to the notices, Duke has been discharging stormwater without the required permits at six coal ash sites: Belew's Creek, Cliffside, Dan River, Roxboro, Lee and Sutton.
The state could fine the utility $25,000 per day of violation per site. It's not clear how far back the state could go in assessing that time frame.
In its response to the notices, required by law within 30 calendar days, Duke said Thursday that the citations are "in error."
According to a letter from Duke Senior Vice President Charles Gates, the utility did not need stormwater permits at two of its sites – Lee, in Goldsboro, and Sutton, near Wilmington – because combined wastewater/stormwater discharge permits have been in place at those sites for years.
For the four other sites, the letter says, Duke has had permit applications pending for months or years at DENR and was working through the permitting process with the agency in good faith.
"We expected that DENR would be issuing the stormwater permits," said Duke spokesman Tom Williams, noting that the process had taken longer than usual.
The letter notes that utility staff left an April 24, 2012, meeting with the agency "with the understanding that NCDENR would consider and clarify their approach for stormwater permitting and communicate that to the companies."
"We were waiting for action by the staff," Williams said, "and then we were slapped with a violation, ultimately, following the spill."
DENR spokeswoman Bridget Munger would say only that the response "provided information for our consideration in determining whether to proceed with additional enforcement action."
"DENR staff will make that decision after careful review of the information provided by the utility, as well as all information collected in the department’s recent inspections of Duke Energy facilities statewide," Munger said.