State moves to block cleanup of three NC coal ash sites

Coal ash, pictured here, is a toxic byproduct of burning coal for power generation. Yesterday the state filed its opposition to a Duke Energy plan that would allow for the full clean up of coal ash at three of the company's sites in North Carolina. (© Hollis Bennett)

Yesterday the North Carolina Department of the Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) filed its opposition to a request from Duke Energy before a North Carolina court mandating cleanup of unlined coal ash pits and Duke Energy’s Cape Fear, Lee, and Weatherspoon sites.

“DENR, which is supposed to protect North Carolina’s clean water and communities, today opposes an order that would protect North Carolina’s clean water and communities,” said Senior Attorney Frank Holleman.

DENR’s move goes against the public interest, conservation group efforts, and Duke Energy’s offer to move all the coal ash at these sites to dry, lined storage away from waterways and drinking water sources. The Duke motion before the court is a result of SELC’s ongoing litigation work on behalf of clients to ensure coal ash clean up throughout the Southeast.

"These sites have serious leaks into neighboring waters, dangerous dams, and groundwater contamination. DENR’s latest move would allow this pollution to continue and these threats to continue, putting bureaucracy ahead of the safety of communities and clean water," said Holleman.

SELC represents Cape Fear River Watch, Neuse Riverkeeper Foundation, Winyah Rivers Foundation, and Waterkeeper Alliance in litigation involving the three sites at issue. There are a total of 14 Duke Energy coal ash sites across North Carolina that SELC and partners are working through the courts to clean up.

For more background on this latest development, read the Pilot Online coverage of yesterday’s court hearing.

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