North Carolina Sues for Coal Ash Water Contamination at 12 Duke Energy Sites

North Carolina on Friday sought a state Superior Court order to force Duke Energy to address groundwater and wastewater violations at 12 power plant sites that the utility uses to store coal ash residuals.

The state’s Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) filed two lawsuits for injunctive relief against Duke Energy Progress Inc. and Duke Energy Carolinas, LLC to address the alleged violations barely a month after the companies agreed to pay the state $100,000 and end coal ash groundwater contamination at two sites.

According to the state agency, monitoring of groundwater at the compliance boundaries of the 12 power plants revealed “levels of chemical constituents that exceed standards for groundwater protection. Also, state water quality inspectors have observed seeps, or releases of liquids not authorized as part of the permitted discharges, at most of the facilities,” the DENR said in a statement.

The utility’s permit violations, “without assessing the problem and taking corrective action, pose a serious danger to the health, safety and welfare of the people of the State of North Carolina and serious harm to the water resources of the State,” the complaints state.

The two lawsuits filed on Friday relate to permit violations the state said it found at: Cliffside Steam Station in Rutherford County, Buck Steam Station in Rowan County, Allen Steam Station in Gaston County, Belews Creek Steam Station in Stokes County, Dan River Combined Cycle Station in Rockingham County. Marshall Steam Station in Catawba County, Cape Fear Steam Electric Generating Plant in Chatham County, H.F. Lee Steam Electric Plant in Wayne County, Mayo Steam Electric Generating Plant and Roxboro Steam Electric Generating Plant in Person County, L. V. Sutton Electric Plant in New Hanover County, and Weatherspoon Steam Electric Plant in Robeson County.

The measure follows motions filed by the DENR earlier this year for injunctive relief requiring the utility to address similar wastewater discharge permit compliance issues at the utility’s 376-MW Asheville Steam Electric Generating Plant in Buncombe County and the 454-MW Riverbend Steam Station in Gaston County.

North Carolina State and Duke Energy in July proposed a consent order regarding the Asheville and Riverbend plants that would require the utility to determine the extent of the contamination, address the violations, and pay a civil penalty of more than $99,000. The settlement also calls for daily fines if the company fails to comply with the final consent order. The proposed consent order must be approved by the court to be final.

Sources: POWER, North Carolina Dept. of Environment and Natural Resources

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