NCDENR

2014 Mecklenburg County State of the Environment Report

Charlotte’s air quality no longer violates federal standards. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says ozone readings now meet levels consistent with its 2008 rule. However, the improved rating may not last long.


A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit by the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources against its federal counterpart.

In December 2013, the state challenged new, tighter limits set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for air pollution the size of smoke particles or smaller. Cars, refineries, factories, and power plants—especially coal plants—emit this particulate matter.

NCDENR

A U.S. Supreme Court ruling against federal efforts to limit mercury and other toxic emissions at coal plants won’t have much direct effect in North Carolina, but the state’s environment secretary argues it should impact the thinking on another, upcoming federal rule to limit carbon emissions.

Ben Bradford / WFAE

At the Riverbend coal plant near Charlotte, a front end loader shovels a load of coal ash and drops it into the bed of a truck, which will haul the ash to a landfill in Georgia. Riverbend is one of four coal plants where Duke and state lawmakers committed to removing all the ash from ponds where it’s stored. Heavy metals, like arsenic, can seep from the ash into groundwater.


Ben Bradford / WFAE

Since a spill polluted the Dan River early last year, coal ash has become an environmental head ache for Duke Energy. But while Duke, state regulators, and environmental groups struggle with how to safely store or bury more than 100 million tons of the waste, other industries don’t look at coal ash as waste—it’s a commodity, and they want more.


Charah

Duke Energy and Chatham County have resolved a dispute over the transfer of coal ash.

usgs.gov

News that state environment officials were drilling near the Dan River last week to look for oil and gas caused a stir. One headline read: “North Carolina Wants To Frack In Small Town Already Struggling With Coal Ash.”


Ben Bradford / WFAE

Duke Energy has pleaded guilty to federal criminal charges for its handling of coal ash, which led to last year’s Dan River spill and violated the Clean Water Act around the state.


After a battery of tests on private drinking water wells near coal ash ponds around North Carolina, health officials have cautioned many residents against drinking from those wells. But officials are hesitant to draw a link between contaminants in the wells and the nearby coal ash ponds.


Eighty-seven homes near Duke Energy coal ash ponds around North Carolina have well-water contaminated with heavy metals, according to state environmental regulators. 

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