Duke Energy to pay seven million settlement for groundwater violations

Duke Energy to pay seven million settlement for groundwater violations

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) -  Duke Energy released a statement Tuesday regarding a settlement with the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality, formerly the NC Department of Environmental and Natural Resources, in reference to alleged groundwater violations at the company's retired Steam Electric plant in Wilmington and another NC facility.

This comprehensive 7 million settlement will resolve former, current and future groundwater issues at all 14 North Carolina coal facilities, including the retired Sutton plant, according to a Duke Energy news release.

In March 2015, a $25.1 million dollar fine was placed against Duke energy that NCDEQ levied for alleged groundwater violations at the Wilmington Sutton Plant. The company appealed the fine and cited a number of instances where evidence showed that the regulator acted contrary to state law, the agency's own rules, policies, and procedures and the longstanding interpretation of the regulations.

Duke Energy's website has terms of agreement and the NCDEQ recognized that it didn't follow its own procedures and didn't allow the company opportunity to perform correct actions and groundwater assessments before issuing notices of violations and fines. To view the terms of agreements click here. 

According to a news release, Duke Energy will pay 7 million to resolve all of the groundwater violations at the 14 North Carolina facilities. Additionally the settlement restates the company's June 2015 commitment to move forward with plans and to remediate groundwater near the ash basins at Sutton.

The company partnered with the local water utility in 2013 to extend a municipal line to Sutton plant neighbors to make sure they continue to have high-quality water. Duke Energy will also perform the necessary contaminates at the Asheville, Belews Creek and H.F. Lee plants, which are the only facilities that showed off-site groundwater impacts in recent site assessments. Private wells in those communities showed no signs that coal ash impacted water quality.

Duke Energy made a statement saying they will put this issue behind them and said, "we are making progress wherever possible, including these actions in recent months."

Back in April of 2015, Duke Energy announced it would start moving coal ash from the Robinson Lake facility to a new landfill. A meeting determined disclosed information on poisonous contamination and other risks at a coal ash site in Darlington County. Tests results came back to show contamination in the Robinson Lake. People who lived in the area were questioning Duke Energy and local environmental groups. Click here to view the full story.

In May WMBF Investigated contamination in the Pee Dee area, residents were concerned with their water because of spills reported in consumer news. See full story here.

Duke Energy announced plans for their future. We are making progress wherever possible, including these actions in recent months:

  • Submitted comprehensive groundwater assessments to the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources for each of the 14 coal plants in the state.
  • Announced that the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) will conduct a comprehensive study of the coal ash recycling market and available technologies.
  • Recommended excavating five basins at the Cape Fear Plant (Moncure, N.C.), five basins at H.F. Lee Plant (Goldsboro, N.C.), one basin at W.H. Weatherspoon Plant (Lumberton, N.C.), and one inactive basin at the Cliffside Steam Station (Mooresboro, N.C.).
  • Began coal ash excavation at Riverbend Steam Station (Mount Holly, N.C.) and W.S. Lee Steam Station (Belton, S.C.) to a fully lined landfill.
  • Announced plans to retire the coal-fired Asheville Plant (Asheville, N.C.) in four to five years and modernize our generation and transmission system in Western North Carolina and Upstate South Carolina – significantly reducing environmental impacts, improving system reliability and minimizing long-term costs to customers.
  • Announced plans to build fully lined on-site landfills at the Dan River Steam Station (Eden, N.C.) and the Sutton Plant (Wilmington, N.C.).

For more information visit Duke Energy.

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