Duke Energy pleads guilty to environmental crimes in North Carolina

Duke Energy pled guilty to crimes under the Clean Water Act in federal court yesterday, including crimes related to this spill of coal ash pollution from the Duke Energy site along the Dan River in February 2014. (© Waterkeeper Alliance)

Duke Energy will pay the largest federal criminal fine in the history of North Carolina—$102 million—after pleading guilty to nine criminal misdemeanors at five coal ash sites in the state, including failures leading to the 2014 spill at its Dan River plant. As part of the deal, the company will also set aside $3.4 billion to meet other obligations, and it has begun to publish full-page apologies in regional and national newspapers. The settlement established that, among other crimes, Duke had ignored explicit requests to perform more rigorous inspections at Dan River in the years leading up to the spill.

“This confirms that Duke has committed serious and long-standing environmental crimes," said SELC Senior Attorney John Suttles. "What this admission of guilt does not do is clean up the coal ash that continues to leak into our water supplies, into our rivers.”

The Southern Environmental Law Center represents the following citizens groups in the cases pending to clean up Duke Energy’s coal ash pollution at all 14 leaking Duke Energy sites across North Carolina: Appalachian Voices, Cape Fear Riverwatch, Catawba Riverkeeper Foundation, Dan River Basin Association, MountainTrue, Neuse Riverkeeper Foundation, Roanoke River Basin Association, Sierra Club, Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, Waterkeeper Alliance, Winyah Rivers Foundation, and Yadkin Riverkeeper.

Yesterday’s court proceedings are part of SELC’s ongoing effort to clean up coal ash pollution throughout the Southeast.


More details on the plea are available in the media coverage below.

Prosecutors: Duke Energy ignored warnings before ash spill The Charlotte Observer

Duke Energy agrees to pay $102 Million for Breaches New York Times

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