Coal Ash

A judge has allowed environmental groups to join a state lawsuit against Duke Energy over water pollution from coal plants.  The judge granted the Catawba Riverkeeper Foundation, which will be represented by the Southern Environmental Law Center, the ability to intervene in the case today, essentially making the organization a second plaintiff. In the lawsuit, the state accuses Duke of allowing coal ash ponds to leak contamination into groundwater, including at the G.G. Allen and Marshall Steam Stations in the Charlotte region.

Court Orders EPA To Review Coal Ash Regulations

Oct 29, 2013

A federal judge has ordered the EPA to decide whether the byproduct from burning coal is a hazardous material that must be regulated. That decision will have big implications for North Carolina.


Contaminated Asheville Well Fuels Coal Ash Debate

Oct 25, 2013
Google Earth

State water regulators have identified a well near Asheville with contaminated drinking water and have indicated it likely comes from waste leaking from a Duke Energy coal plant. At the same time, the state and environmental organizations are caught up in a lawsuit with Duke over exactly this issue—coal plants contaminating groundwater and rivers, including in the Asheville and Charlotte regions. 

WFAE’s Ben Bradford joined Morning Edition host Kevin Kniestedt to unpack what the one contaminated well signifies for Duke, the state, environmentalists, and water drinkers around North Carolina.

Duke Energy

State water regulators and Duke Energy want to wrap up a lawsuit over possible contamination to rivers that feed water supplies for Asheville and Charlotte. The state released a final proposed settlement Tuesday, but environmental groups say it lacks teeth.

N.C. Files More Suits Over Coal-Ash Runoff

Aug 18, 2013

The state of North Carolina has filed more lawsuits against Duke Energy seeking to force the utility to clean up water pollution from coal ash at 12 power plants. The state Department of Environment and Natural Resources filed two lawsuits Friday in Wake and Mecklenburg counties. Those suits expand the state's litigation to all 14 of North Carolina's coal-fired plants.  Water tests at the 12 sites covered in the new suits showed chemical levels above what’s considered safe. State inspectors also have seen seeping liquid that’s not allowed under Duke’s permits.

Duke Energy has reached a tentative settlement with the state of North Carolina regarding lawsuits over leaks from its coal ash ponds in Asheville and on the Catawba River. 

The company has agreed to pay a $99,112 fine.  The consent order would require the company to determine the cause and the extent of those leaks into groundwater and into Mountain Island Lake, the source of Charlotte’s drinking water supply.  Susan Massengale with the NC Division of Water Quality says the proposed agreement lays out a timeline for Duke to do that. 

NC Files Second Ash Suit Against Duke Energy

May 29, 2013
Jeff Willhelm / 2008 Observer File Photo

North Carolina has filed a second lawsuit against Duke Energy in a move that puts the state’s claim that coal ash poses a threat to Charlotte’s water supply before a Mecklenburg County court.

Last week the N.C. Division of Water Quality amended an existing complaint, about ash stored at Duke Energy Progress’ Asheville power plant, to include the Riverbend plant near Charlotte.

On Friday, the division filed a separate lawsuit in Mecklenburg County Superior Court solely about Riverbend, which is operated by Duke Energy Carolinas.

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 Catawba Riverkeeper has identified a handful of places where water from Duke Energy’s coal ash ponds are seeping into Mountain Island Lake and Lake Wylie. 

Catawba Riverkeeper Rick Gaskins has found four leaks, or what are called seepages, into the two lakes that provide drinking water to the Charlotte area.  The seepages bubble up from the ground. 

“The ones that are the easiest to spot have generally an orange-ish color to them,” says Gaskins. 

A Duke University study has found high levels of coal ash contaminants in rivers and lakes downstream from coal-fired power plants. Mountain Island Lake, which provides drinking water to the Charlotte area, is one of the lakes tested that show the highest amounts of arsenic.  

The study tested 11 North Carolina lakes and rivers, and it found smaller ones like Mountain Island had the highest levels of coal ash toxins. 

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