WBTV Investigation: Duke Energy Edited 'Independent' Coal Ash Report

Nov 14, 2017

For several years, Duke Energy has faced criticisms about its handling of coal ash, including concerns about contamination of groundwater around coal ash storage ponds at power plant sites in the Carolinas. Now, the company is facing scrutiny over the way it engaged with experts hired to study its handling of coal ash ponds. 

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

Beginning in February, 2013, Duke Energy hired two University of North Carolina at Charlotte professors to do scientific study of the company's coal ash management options. In October, 2014 Duke named one of those experts, Dr. John Daniels, to chair a newly-formed National Ash Management Advisory Board managed by UNCC.

Documents obtained by Charlotte television station WBTV show that a report issued by the other professor, Dr. Bill Langley, and billed by Duke Energy as “independent,” was in fact directly influenced by Duke Energy. According to a WBTV news story that aired on Monday, documents show that the final report from Langley included changes that a Duke official had provided as “highly suggested edits."  

WBTV investigative reporter Nick Ochsner spoke about these and related findings with WFAE's Mark Rumsey.

Read/Watch WBTV report on 'independent' coal ash management study edited by Duke Energy.

Read documents showing "highly suggested edits" from Duke Energy for expert's coal ash report.

UNC-Charlotte's rebuttal of WBTV report.

Read Duke Energy's press release from October 2, 2014 announcing creation of a national panel of independent experts to help guide the company's coal ash management strategy.