Court confirms state’s authority to require Duke Energy coal ash clean-up

Coal ash storage seen at Duke Energy’s Roxboro plant. (© Sanjay Suchak)

After the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality ordered Duke Energy to excavate six of its coal ash sites this spring, the utility challenged the state’s order. Last week, an administrative judge confirmed DEQ’s authority to choose how the utility must close the six sites it has so far refused to clean up.

“Today’s dismissal puts to rest the notion that DEQ was premature in selecting a remedy for Duke’s coal ash pollution—an issue that has been studied for years and received multiple rounds of public comment—and allows the case to focus instead on DEQ’s decision to require a full cleanup,” says Senior Attorney DJ Gerken.

SELC represents the following groups in the N.C. Office of Administrative Hearings proceedings: Appalachian Voices, Catawba Riverkeeper Foundation, MountainTrue, Roanoke River Basin Association, Sierra Club, the Stokes County Branch of the NAACP, and Waterkeeper Alliance.

SELC is supporting the state’s scientific determinations and the call for full excavation made in April 2019. We will continue to push for excavation of coal ash along of all of North Carolina’s waterways.

Says Gerken, “Duke Energy’s coal ash should not be left covered up in unlined pits to pollute in place for generations beside our lakes and rivers.”

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