Duke and Progress Energy will not have to clean up seepages from fourteen coal ash ponds, according to a ruling from the North Carolina Environmental Management Commission. Several environmental groups including the Riverkeeper Foundation say the utilities are breaking state rules by not stopping their coal ash ponds from leaking into ground water.
Commission chairman Steve Smith says the vote was 9-to-2 in favor of Duke and Progress.
“The utility’s operation of the coal ash ponds as they presently operate, to the extent that they involve the question of groundwater pollution, can continue as they’re presently operating,”
The Riverkeeper Foundation still hopes to force the utilities to clean up the ash ponds. The group plans to appeal the decision. The Catawba Riverkeeper challenged South Carolina Electric & Gas over similar seepages on the Wateree near Columbia. In August, the utility agreed to remove all coal ash from ponds at that plant and recycle or place it in lined landfills.
Duke Energy says some seepage from the ash ponds is necessary to prevent pressure from building up.