News | April 4, 2016

N.C. court orders coal ash clean up over state objections

Today the North Carolina Superior Court issued orders requiring the cleanup of coal ash from three leaking Duke Energy sites in North Carolina.

“Cleanup of these leaking coal ash sites, and four more covered by a pending motion, have been the goal of five years of work by citizen conservation groups from North Carolina’s mountains to the coast, to protect our rivers and communities from toxic coal ash pollution. All rivers and communities across North Carolina deserve clean water and similar protection from Duke Energy’s coal ash pollution,” said Senior Attorney Frank Holleman. “North Carolina’s Department of Environmental Quality actually opposed the order requiring cleanup of these three polluted sites, even though both Duke Energy and conservation groups agree that the cleanups are required to protect North Carolina’s rivers and communities. We can only hope that North Carolina’s environmental protection agency will begin to actually protect North Carolina’s environment, and require a total cleanup of the remaining polluted coal ash sites across the state.”

The court’s orders require the excavation and removal of coal ash from leaking unlined pits and lagoons on the Cape Fear River in Moncure, the Neuse River in Goldsboro, and the Lumber River in Lumberton. The court’s order was entered in response to a motion by Duke Energy requesting that the court order the excavation and removal of coal ash from these three locations in North Carolina to dry, lined storage away from waterways and groundwater, a move the citizens groups represented by SELC supported. North Carolina’s Department of Environmental Quality had opposed entry of this order requiring cleanup of leaking coal ash sites. 

The court has pending before it a similar summary judgment motion dealing with coal ash removal at Duke Energy’s Asheville, Riverbend, Sutton, and Dan River sites. Today’s order does not deal with those sites; the Court is expected to issue a separate order dealing with those four sites.

The public may submit comments urging removal of ash from any or all sites by April 18.