Press Release | December 18, 2018

Duke Energy Filings Confirm Groundwater Pollution at Coal Ash Sites in Carolinas

Arsenic and Radioactive Materials among Contaminants

CHAPEL HILL, N.C.–Duke Energy’s coal ash lagoons are illegally polluting groundwater throughout the Carolinas with dangerous pollutants including arsenic and radioactive materials, according to Duke Energy’s own filings posted on Friday December 14.  At sites throughout North and South Carolina, Duke Energy’s coal ash lagoons are injecting into groundwater illegal levels of radium 226 and radium 228, toxic substances and heavy metals arsenic, beryllium, cadmium, cobalt, lithium, molybdenum, selenium, and thallium.

The national Coal Combustion Residuals Rule forced Duke Energy to make these admissions public.  The filings are posted on a website that Duke Energy is required to maintain, at

“Duke Energy is polluting groundwater in the Carolinas with toxic and radioactive contaminants,” said Frank Holleman, senior attorney at the Southern Environmental Law Center.   “Duke Energy should remove its coal ash from all its unlined, leaking pits to protect our groundwater and our rivers and lakes from radioactive and toxic pollution.”

Duke Energy is now required to remove all its coal ash from all of its unlined lagoons in South Carolina and from its unlined lagoons at eight of 14 sites in North Carolina.  But Duke Energy is trying to leave its coal ash in unlined lagoons at six sites in North Carolina:  Allen (Lake Wylie), Belews Creek (Stokes County), Cliffside/Rogers (Mooresboro), Mayo (Person County), Marshall (Lake Norman), and Roxboro (Person County).

Duke Energy is illegally polluting groundwater from coal ash lagoons at North Carolina sites where it wants to leave its coal ash permanently in unlined pits.  At Belews Creek in Stokes County, at Cliffside (Rogers) in Mooresboro, and at Marshall on Lake Norman near Charlotte, Duke Energy is polluting the groundwater with radium 226 and radium 228.  At Allen on Lake Wylie, at Belews Creek in Stokes County, at Cliffside (Rogers) in Mooresboro, at Marshall on Lake Norman, and at Roxboro in Person County, Duke Energy is illegally polluting the groundwater with arsenic and cobalt.  In all, Duke Energy is illegally polluting groundwater at these sites with ten different radioactive or toxic pollutants.

These violations will require Duke Energy to put together a corrective action plan to return the groundwater to its unpolluted condition.  Duke Energy has not published plans to get rid of the groundwater pollution it has caused.

In January of 2019, DEQ will hold public meetings to receive public input about whether Duke Energy should be required to remove its coal ash from the unlined pits at the six sites in North Carolina and eliminate the source of this groundwater pollution.  The meetings will be:

Belews Creek:  Jan. 10, 6:00 p.m.,
Walnut Cove Elementary School
1211 Walnut Cove School Road, Walnut Cove, NC 27052

Mayo:  Jan. 15, 6:00 p.m.
Mayo Park Environmental Education Community Center
1013 Neal's Store Rd, Roxboro, NC 27574

Marshall:  Jan. 17, 6:00 p.m.
Sherrills Ford Elementary School
8103 Sherrills Ford Rd, Sherrills Ford, NC 28673

Cliffside (Rogers):  Jan. 22, 6:00 p.m.
Chase High School
1603 Chase High Rd, Forest City, NC 28043

Roxboro:  Jan. 24, 6:00 p.m.
Person High School
1010 Ridge Rd, Roxboro, NC 27573

Allen:  Jan. 29, 6:00 p.m.
Stuart Cramer High School
101 Lakewood Road, Belmont, NC


For more than 30 years, the Southern Environmental Law Center has used the power of the law to champion the environment of the Southeast. With over 80 attorneys and nine offices across the region, SELC is widely recognized as the Southeast’s foremost environmental organization and regional leader. SELC works on a full range of environmental issues to protect our natural resources and the health and well-being of all the people in our region.

Are you a reporter and would like more information? Please visit our press contact page for a full list of SELC’s press contacts.

Press Contacts

Kathleen Sullivan

Senior Communications Manager (NC)

Phone: 919-945-7106
Email: [email protected]