Coal Ash

Duke Energy wants answers on how testimony by a state toxicologist was leaked to the Associated Press three weeks ago. Duke believes an environmental group is responsible, and wants a court hearing on the matter.

Health Of Our Water

Aug 16, 2016
Coal ash ponds at Riverbend Steam Station in Mount Holly.
David Boraks / WFAE

There’s a troubling controversy swirling around the quality of drinking water from wells near coal ash ponds. First, the state said it wasn’t safe to drink. Now they say it is. The governor has accused a state scientist of lying and now his boss has resigned saying she can’t work for a department or administration that would deliberately mislead the public  So, how safe is our water and can we believe what we’re told? 

North Carolina Department of Heath and Human Services

You normally don’t hear much about North Carolina’s state epidemiologist.

But it’s not every day that a scientist sends out a scathing letter of resignation.

That’s just what Dr. Megan Davies did late Tuesday night, citing what she sees as McCory administration officials misleading the public about whether or not well water near unlined coal ash ponds is safe to drink. 

Duke Energy's G.G. Allen Steam Station on Lake Wylie in Gaston County
Aaron Hartley / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

Some well owners near coal plants say the resignation of North Carolina’s epidemiologist confirms what they’ve been saying for months: their water is not safe to drink.

Amy Brown of Belmont lives near Duke's Allen Steam Station and has been receiving bottled water since 2015. She spoke at a rally in March.
David Boraks / WFAE

This week Governor Pat McCrory's office accused a state toxicologist of lying under oath. That came after that toxicologist testified in a lawsuit to force Duke Energy to remove coal ash from one of its North Carolina plants. The testimony has ignited another round of debate over whether well water near Duke coal plants is safe to drink. WFAE environmental reporter David Boraks talked with All Things Considered host Lisa Worf about the news.   

Profits at Duke Energy were lower in the second quarter compared with a year ago, mainly because of a write-down as it prepares to sell its international business. But executives say Duke's main U.S. operations are strong.

David Boraks / WFAE

Updated 11 p.m.
Governor Pat McCrory has signed a bill that will allow Duke Energy to store coal ash in place permanently at as many as half its plants in North Carolina. The bill also provides a permanent water supply to neighbors of Duke's coal ash ponds. 

N.C. Department of Environmental Quality


  Follow-up tests last week found no arsenic in Mountain Island Lake, according to a report from the state Department of Environmental Quality.  

Tests last month had found arsenic at nearly 10 times federal limits, near where Duke Energy was draining water from coal ash ponds at the Riverbend plant in Mount Holly.  

Coal ash ponds at Riverbend Steam Station in Mount Holly.
David Boraks / WFAE

Duke Energy has stopped draining coal ash ponds into Mountain Island Lake after recent county tests found elevated levels of arsenic in the water. State environmental regulators say they’re investigating whether Duke violated state law.

Catawba Riverkeeper Foundation


 North Carolina lawmakers have sent Governor Pat McCrory a bill that would relax the state's coal ash cleanup law. It passed the House, 82-32, Thursday night and immediately drew criticism from environmentalists.

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