Duke Energy filings confirm groundwater pollution at Carolinas coal ash sites

Duke Energy coal ash storage in South Carolina, prior to excavation.  (© Hollis Bennett)

Duke Energy’s coal ash lagoons are illegally polluting groundwater throughout the Carolinas with dangerous pollutants including arsenic and radioactive materials, according to Duke Energy’s own filings posted on Friday, December 14. At sites throughout North and South Carolina, Duke Energy’s coal ash lagoons are injecting into groundwater illegal levels of long list of pollutants including radioactive radium 226,and radium 228 as well as heavy metals like, arsenic, beryllium, cadmium, cobalt, lithium, molybdenum, selenium, and thallium.

The national Coal Combustion Residuals Rule forced Duke Energy to make these admissions public. The filings are posted on a website that Duke Energy is required to maintain.

Duke Energy is polluting groundwater in the Carolinas with toxic and radioactive contaminants,” said Senior Attorney Frank Holleman. “Duke Energy should remove its coal ash from all its unlined, leaking pits to protect our groundwater and our rivers and lakes from radioactive and toxic pollution.”

Duke Energy is now required to remove all its coal ash from each of its unlined lagoons in South Carolina and from its unlined lagoons at eight of 14 sites in North Carolina. But Duke Energy still is trying to leave its coal ash in unlined lagoons at six sites in North Carolina: Allen (Lake Wylie), Belews Creek (Stokes County), Cliffside/Rogers (Mooresboro), Mayo (Person County), Marshall (Lake Norman), and Roxboro (Person County).

Duke Energy is illegally polluting groundwater from coal ash lagoons at North Carolina sites where it wants to leave its coal ash permanently in unlined pits. At Belews Creek in Stokes County, at Cliffside (Rogers) in Mooresboro, and at Marshall on Lake Norman near Charlotte, Duke Energy is polluting the groundwater with radium 226 and radium 228. At Allen on Lake Wylie, at Belews Creek in Stokes County, at Cliffside (Rogers) in Mooresboro, at Marshall on Lake Norman, and at Roxboro in Person County, Duke Energy is illegally polluting the groundwater with arsenic and cobalt. In all, Duke Energy is illegally polluting groundwater at these sites with ten different radioactive or toxic pollutants.

These violations will require Duke Energy to put together a corrective action plan to return the groundwater to its unpolluted condition. Duke Energy has not published plans to get rid of the groundwater pollution it has caused.

Your Chance To Weigh In


In January of 2019, North Carolina’s Department of Environmental Quality will hold public meetings to receive public input about whether Duke Energy should be required to remove its coal ash from the unlined pits at the six sites in North Carolina and eliminate the source of this groundwater pollution. The meetings schedule is below. We hope to see you there.

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