Environment

Valdese has bought 302 acres along Lake Rhodhiss for a new park.
Foothills Conservancy

The town of Valdese in Burke County has acquired 302 acres along Lake Rhodhiss and McGalliard Creek for a new public park. The $1.3 million purchase was funded by private donations and a grant from the state’s Clean Water Management Trust Fund. It came came after 2½ years of planning and fundraising by the Foothills Conservancy.

A grappler tears into bricks and metal at Duke Energy's retired Riverbend Steam Station in Mount Holly.
David Boraks / WFAE

A big transformation is happening at Duke Energy's retired Riverbend Steam Station on Mountain Island Lake northwest of Charlotte. The 1920s powerhouse is being demolished, wall-by-wall. And trains are hauling away coal ash that had been dumped behind the plant for about 90 years. 

Map shows the Atlantic Coast Pipeline's proposed route through eastern North Carolina. It will orginate in West Virginia and run through Virginia as well.
Atlantic Coast Pipeline

Updated 6:35 p.m.
North Carolina environmental regulators have issued a key water permit for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline. It's one of the last permits needed before construction begins in the state.

Duke is close to announcing coal-ash basin closure plans for a half-dozen plants, including the Marshall Steam Station on Lake Norman.
David Boraks / WFAE

Duke Energy has agreed to pay an $84,000 fine and will speed up coal ash cleanups at three coal-fired power plants in western North Carolina. The proposed agreement with state environmental regulators deals with pollutants seeping from coal ash ponds near the Marshall plant on Lake Norman, the Allen plant in Gaston County and the Rogers plant in Rutherford County.

After Democrat Roy Cooper defeated Republican Governor Pat McCrory a year ago, state environmental secretary Donald van der Vaart gave up his office. After all, he was a McCrory appointee. But he didn't leave the agency. Instead he demoted himself and the department's No. 2 official, John Evans, to staff positions. The two men have since spoken out on policy issues, sometimes at odds with state policy. Now the Department of Environmental Quality has put the van der Vaart and Evans on paid  "investigatory leave."  WFAE's David Boraks joins "All Things Considered" host Mark Rumsey to talk about the situation.

Coal ash is being excavated from Duke Energy's closed Riverbend coal plant on Mountain Island Lake.
David Boraks / WFAE

Duke Energy has removed about 13 million tons of coal ash at five plants in North Carolina as it complies with federal and state cleanup requirements. But ten times that amount remains in the ground across the state, and not all that will be removed.

Duke Energy

What if a dam holding back coal ash burst at one of Duke Energy's coal plants in the Carolinas or Midwest? Newly released maps from Duke show many properties would be inundated, including some homes and docks. The maps are now public, after environmentalists threatened to sue. 

A controversial former environmental official from Alabama is President Trump's pick to oversee the EPA in the Southeast.  Trey Glenn was named administrator for EPA Region 4, which includes the Carolinas, Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky, Mississippi and Alabama.

Nick de la Canal / WFAE

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Storm Water Services estimates at least "a couple hundred gallons" of raw sewage spilled Friday into the pond at Park Road Park.  The agency's Rusty Rozzelle says the spill was caused by a sewer line blockage.

dan river coal ash cleanup
David Boraks / WFAE

Dozens of insurance companies say they're not obligated to help pay for Duke Energy Corp.'s multi-billion dollar coal ash cleanup because the nation's largest electric company long knew about but did nothing to reduce the threat of potentially toxic pollutants.

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