McCrory demands Duke plans for coal ash

Posted February 25, 2014

— Gov. Pat McCrory has written to Duke Energy to ask the company to turn over details of what it plans to do with coal ash ponds at 14 locations around the state, including one that spilled tons of toxin-laced material into the Dan River on Feb. 2. 

The letter asks the company to turn over "plans for these facilities, including any options, priorities, alternatives, preliminary designs, cost estimates, or any other pertinent information you possess regarding Duke Energy Carolinas and Duke Energy Progress coal ash ponds." 

McCrory, who co-signed the letter with Department of Environment and Natural Resources Secretary John Skvarla, asks the company to return the information by March 15. 

Gov. McCrory's letter to Duke Energy "We're asking for information so that, if there's any kind of legislative response that's necessary, we can make an informed decision in time for session," said Josh Ellis, a spokesman for McCrory. 

Senior lawmakers at the General Assembly have said they will push for legislation that would force Duke to dig up its coal ash ponds and move the material to landfills.

A proposed consent order in a lawsuit involving the state and Duke would have laid out time lines for two of the company's 14 coal ash facilities. Those lawsuits did not involve dramatic breaches like the Feb. 2 spill at the Dan River but the slow leaching of chemicals and heavy metals from the unlined pits in which Duke has stored the toxic slurry of coal residuals and water. 

Ellis said the questions surrounding coal ash involve more than just the cleanup of Dan River. Rather, he said, the state wants to make sure there are no similar spills in the future.

"We’re asking Duke for any information that would help us make a better informed decision about the long-term future of all North Carolina coal ash ponds," Ellis said.

For its part, Duke has said it is working on such plans but has not laid out a timeline for when it would propose what to do with the ponds not involved the consent order. Company officials have said that the Dan River spill had prompted it to re-evaluate its plans for closing coal ash ponds. 

"We will respond to the state and work to determine the most appropriate resolution," Duke spokesman David Scanzoni said in an email. "As we have stated, our company is taking another look at how we manage ash basins." 

Environmental groups have been critical of the McCrory administration's work on coal ash but took Tuesday's letter as a positive step.  

"It's an improved sign that the governor and DENR are finally waking up to the seriousness of the threat that Duke's coal ash storage poses in North Carolina," said Frank Holleman, a lawyer for the Southern Environmental Law Center, which helped prod the state toward its initial legal actions and has been critical of the state's efforts on the topic.

But Holleman said that, even though the push for more information is good, he and his clients are looking for a call to action.

"We want them to actually clean it up and not drag their feet, appoint a committee, issue a press release....and so on. Just do the right thing. Actions will speak much louder than any words," he said.


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  • notexactly Feb 28, 2014

    there is no such thing as clean anything when you are talking energy!! You think solar and wind are clean. Nope. Maybe cleaner, but not clean. Coal can be made to be much cleaner than it is today. You think hydro is clean? nope. Actually the cleanest one of all is nuclear. Imagine that

  • Carol Smith Feb 28, 2014
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    McCrory has not been up front about this. His demands are a joke!

  • nything25 Feb 28, 2014

    Since Duke Energy has a monopoly on providing residential energy in this state, put something in the legislation that requires Duke Energy to pay out of their own coffers, instead of passing the cost on to NC taxpayers, by way of higher energy rates.

  • Jeremy Gilchrist Feb 28, 2014
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    Just remember there is no such thing as "Clean Coal".

  • Lisa Marie Fields Feb 27, 2014
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    Of course the new "deposits" that has been charged to a lot of residents bills happened just after this spill, imagine that.

  • Norm Samuelson Feb 26, 2014
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    Oooohhhh, a demand by McCrory! I'll bet that has Duke Energy shaking in their boots! How about forcing the Duke management to drink a glass of Dan River water every day until it's cleaned up?

  • davidgnews Feb 26, 2014

    You tell 'em Pat, that will show them alright. I'm sure Duke Energy management is shaking in their boots by now. The very thought of them upsetting you strikes fear in their collective hearts.

  • Jump1 Feb 26, 2014

    "We're asking for information so that, if there's any kind of legislative response that's necessary, we can make an informed decision in time for session," said Josh Ellis, a spokesman for McCrory. He needs to know so he can pull that much tax money to pay for this mess, so he can still be friends w/Duke.

  • Glenda Hightower Feb 26, 2014
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    Just thankful that the national media attention brought all this to everyone's attention, including the federal government. But before the two entities above got involved, the McCrory administration actively involved itself in making sure that Duke wasn't sued, and fined them a pittance with absolutely nothing about cleaning up their mess. Has anyone seen all the Duke Power contributions given to our legislators. Thom Tillis, the speaker of the House, got over $30,000 and other legislators (republicans) who received large campaign contributions from Duke were pushing bill SB10 that would give the governor more power to sweep such things done by Duke and other corps. under the rug. The administration made a bad move. When the feds get involved, someone is going to jail.

  • Forthe Newssite Feb 26, 2014
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    How is THIS any different from how folks bash Obama? It ISN'T, that's how.....

    What I DO complain about w/ patti is that he has YET to PROVE he will take action against his cronies....the proof will be in the pudding so to speak. Talk is cheap so let's see what happens.