Duke Energy and the state of North Carolina have reached a settlement agreement requiring Duke to excavate nearly 80 million tons of coal ash at six facilities around the state. DEQ said in a press release that the excavation is the largest coal ash cleanup in the nation’s history and will result in more excavation of coal ash than in four neighboring states combined.
Under the agreement, Duke will excavate more than 76 million tons of coal ash from the last open, unlined coal ash lagoons in the state, located at the Allen, Belews Creek, Cliffside, Marshall, Mayo and Roxboro sites. The ash will be moved and safely stored in lined landfills away from waterways. More than 3 million tons of non-impounded coal ash will also be excavated. At the Roxboro and Marshall facilities there will also be additional protective measures, such as surface water and groundwater monitoring, for specific sections of impoundments that will remain under existing permitted landfills or structural fills.
Duke has also agreed to enter into a court-supervised consent order with DEQ and the community groups represented by Southern Environmental Law Center in court.
The public will have an opportunity to comment on the coal ash lagoon closure plans at public hearings that will take place near all six of the sites in February.
“This agreement is a historic cleanup of coal ash pollution in North Carolina, and the Department of Environmental Quality and community groups throughout the state have provided essential leadership in obtaining it,” said Frank Holleman, senior attorney at the Southern Environmental Law Center. “The water resources and families of North Carolina will benefit from this statewide coal ash cleanup for years to come.”