News | May 19, 2015

Duke Energy must be held accountable for its coal ash mess in Virginia

On April 3, 2015,  the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) announced a proposed $2.5 million settlement with Duke Energy for alleged violations of Virginia state laws related to the power company’s spill of 39,000 tons of coal ash into the Dan River, the third largest coal ash spill in the nation’s history. Coal ash coated approximately 80 miles of the Dan River through portions that have been designated as a Virginia Scenic River and into the Kerr Reservoir. Duke Energy only removed 8% of the spilled coal ash from the Dan River; 92% of the coal ash pollution remains in the river to this day.

The proposed $2.5 million Virginia settlement for restoration projects in the Dan River basin is less than 1% of an estimated $295 million in damages caused by the toxic spill in the first six months alone.  The DEQ is accepting comments on the agreement through Wednesday, May 20, and SELC recently submitted comments to DEQ outlining how vastly insufficient this agreement is to effectively clean up and restore the Dan River in Virginia and the surrounding communities and resources impacted by the coal ash spill. 

This public comment period comes on the heels of Duke Energy’s decision to plead guilty to nine federal criminal charges related to coal ash management in North Carolina; four of those alleged crimes involve the Dan River site and spill. Duke Energy had ignored years of warnings about the Dan River site before the spill occurred.  

To submit public comments to DEQ about the proposed settlement, email Kathleen.oconnell@deq.virginia.gov by 5pm ET on Wednesday, May 20, 2015.

Click here for more information from DEQ about the Dan River coal ash spill and the language of the proposed settlement and consent order.

Read the Associated Press story “Proposed Va. coal ash settlement falls far short” on Richmond.com