Duke Energy Faces Fines for Coal Ash Leaks

Tuesday, March 8, 2016 @ 01:03 PM gHale


Duke Energy is on notice from North Carolina it is subject to fines and penalties for improper leaks at coal ash ponds at 12 current and former coal plants.

Duke has 30 days to formally respond to notices from the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) if it wishes to make a case for why it should not be liable for the leaks. The state said wastewater from the coal ash ponds at the plants leaked from the ponds and got into nearby bodies of water.

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The maximum fine would be $10,000 per violation, although Duke and the state have had disputes over how to count individual violations for ongoing coal ash issues.

Duke Energy said the allegations are “nothing new.”

“Even the state environmental regulator acknowledges that seeps occur at every earthen impoundment, and those at ash basins are not impacting water quality,” the company said.

“The best way to reduce or eliminate seeps altogether is to safely remove the water from ash basins and close them in ways that protect people and the environment,” Duke said. “That’s exactly what Duke Energy is doing right now.”

The violations cited in this round include leaks at Duke’s Allen Steam Station and Marshall Steam Station, both in the Charlotte region. Violations also occurred at Asheville Steam Station, Belews Creek Steam Station, Buck Steam Station, Cape Fear Steam Electric Generating Plant, Cliffside Steam Station, Dan River Combined Cycle Plant, Lee Steam Electric Plant, Mayo Steam Electric Power Plant, Roxboro Steam Electric Plant and Weatherspoon Steam Electric Plant.

DEQ has already fined Duke $7 million for environmental violations of the state environmental regulations at its Sutton Plant in Wilmington.

It also fined Duke $6.8 million for violations at the Dan River plant involving the 2014 accidental spill of 39,000 tons of coal ash into the Dan River. There are indications that Duke will appeal that fine next week.