Duke Energy’s W. S. Lee Steam Station has been burning coal since 1951. In April 2015 the company plans to cease operating all coal-fired units at the site and convert the one remaining unit to natural gas. Now, after pressure from SELC and our clients Upstate Forever and Save Our Saluda, Duke has agreed to start cleaning up the facility’s toxic coal ash, moving it from two lagoons on the banks of the Saluda River into dry, lined storage away from the waterway. The commitment means that, thanks to action by SELC, all three major South Carolina utilities are at last beginning to clean up their coal ash pollution. Duke is also formulating a plan to address the remaining three impoundments at Lee, and we will remain engaged until a full cleanup is in place.
SELC’s work also prompted the state of South Carolina to demand that Duke address serious concerns with the safety of the dams at Lee, substandard structures that hold back more than 1 million tons of ash from the Saluda.