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SCE&G Removes Almost 500,000 Tons of Coal Ash from Banks of Catawba-Wateree River

SCE&G Removes Almost 500,000 Tons of Coal Ash from Banks of Catawba-Wateree River

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Catawba Riverkeeper settled its lawsuit in August 2012

SCE&G Removes Almost 500,000 Tons of Coal Ash from Banks of Catawba-Wateree River

Wateree Steam Station Ash Ponds

According to a report this week under a settlement agreement, South Carolina Electric and Gas removed almost 500,000 tons of coal ash from its coal ash lagoons on the banks of the Catawba-Wateree River near Columbia, South Carolina.  In 2012, the Southern Environmental Law Center brought suit against SCE&G on behalf of the Catawba Riverkeeper Foundation seeking removal of the ash.  The coal ash removal is required by the voluntary settlement of that litigation. 

“SCE&G is moving quickly to remove coal ash that threatens the Catawba-Wateree River and the Congaree National Park just 3 miles downstream,” said Frank Holleman, senior attorney at the Southern Environmental Law Center.  “Upstream, Duke Energy stores coal ash on three locations along the Catawba River, and on rivers throughout North and South Carolina.  Duke Energy should be removing its coal ash today, like SCE&G, instead of hiring lobbyists and lawyers and fighting to keep its coal ash in place.”

SCE&G’s coal ash removal is ahead of schedule.  Under the settlement, SCE&G is required to remove 240,000 tons by January of 2015.  SCE&G has now removed twice that amount.  The Catawba-Wateree lagoons had 2.4 million tons of coal ash in them when the removal began.

“SCE&G has demonstrated that large-scale coal ash removal can be done and quickly so when not relentlessly resisted,” said Sam Perkins, Catawba RIVERKEEPER®. “With the prompt cleanup, this stretch of the Catawba-Wateree River is progressively less likely to see a disaster like that at Dan River. There is no reason that Duke Energy, with worlds more resources, cannot do the same.”

The coal ash is being moved to a modern, lined landfill away from the river on the site of SCE&G’s facility, where it is stored dry. SCE&G reported its progress in a semi-annual report for the period ending June 30, 2014.

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From the perspectives of 12 NC Riverkeepers, this report discusses how multiple environmental issues pose challenges in the pursuit of clean, plentiful water. Whether you are in North Carolina or downstream in South Carolina, read this report about the state of environmental enforcement.
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Fish consumption advisories have been issued throughout the Catawba-Wateree River basin.  Many of these advisories are the result of testing initiated by Catawba Riverkeeper and confirmed by state and local officials.  For a chart identifying fish types with the applicable advisories for the Charlotte area, click here.   For more information about the fish advisories, click here.

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