Coal Ash

Charlotte Douglas Doesn't Want Coal Ash Under Runway

May 9, 2014
Robert Lahser / Charlotte Observer

Charlotte Douglas International Airport doesn’t want coal ash from a Duke Energy power plant buried under a planned new runway or other airport infrastructure, dealing a potential blow to a proposal that would move millions of tons of ash from Mountain Island Lake to the airport.

Interim Aviation Director Brent Cagle said there’s uncertainty about how coal ash would work as a fill material under a runway, where it could be subjected to the pounding of hundreds of jets a day at Charlotte Douglas, the sixth-busiest airport in the world.

Duke Energy reported a nearly $100 million loss in the first quarter of this year—and its stock went up.

The loss comes from Duke selling its Midwest business—13 coal and natural gas plants—where it has less control over the price of electricity. The company estimates a $1.4 billion hit to its books. Other than the one-time loss, the company reported strong growth, partially due to a rebounding economy.

Governor Pat McCrory has sold his stock in Duke Energy, the company where he worked for nearly three decades. The sale came during a year when McCrory’s connections to Duke have been scrutinized.

Ben Bradford / WFAE

Duke Energy held its annual shareholder meeting Thursday. The meeting has developed into something of a tradition: environmental groups use it as a rare opportunity to face, question, and berate the CEO of one of America’s largest power companies. This year, with a new CEO at the helm and Duke under fire for its handling of coal ash, tensions ran higher than usual.

Duke Energy

Two weeks ago, North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory released a plan, billed as a solution for the coal ash ponds leaking polluted water into rivers and lakes around North Carolina. But environmental groups are crying foul—because the governor’s proposal resembles a previous, widely-criticized agreement between the administration and Duke Energy, which was thrown out after a coal ash pond collapsed into the Dan River in February.

Duke Energy

State regulators and Duke Energy officials poured cold water on proposals by environmental groups about what to do with more than 100 millions of tons of coal ash, describing total removal of the ash as lengthy and costly.

Mark Rumsey / WFAE

Two big developments occurred Wednesday in an ongoing fight over how North Carolina utilities store the leftover byproduct of coal. Governor Pat McCrory released a plan of action to stop the current storage in unlined ponds from leaking into state waterways. Then, a judge decreed clean-up efforts to stop those leaks must begin immediately, even as Duke Energy and a state committee appeal.

Ben Bradford / WFAE

The failure of a Duke Energy coal ash pond two months ago not only spilled at least 30,000 tons of the waste into the Dan River, it spurred new scrutiny of how Duke handles the waste, what chemicals are flowing into North Carolina waters, and how the state oversees all of it. It has led to numerous revelations about leaks or cracks in other ponds, wastewater pumped into rivers, lawsuits, and federal investigations. WFAE’s Ben Bradford joined Morning Edition host Kevin Kniestedt to discuss the latest.

Appalachian Voices

Duke Energy is denying accusations by regulators that it allows contaminated storm water to run unauthorized from its coal plants. It’s the first major pushback from Duke against state regulators after the Dan River spill—but not the last, the company says.

Ben Bradford / WFAE

Charlotte’s city council took its first look Monday night at a proposal to convert the toxic leftovers of burnt coal into a building material at Charlotte Douglas airport.