Our press release on the consent order proposed today between the State of North Carolina and Duke Energy:
(Charlotte, N.C.) The State of North Carolina and Duke Energy today proposed a 25-page consent order aimed at stopping seepage and closing coal ash ponds. The Catawba Riverkeeper has reviewed the proposal.
“This consent order is a necessary admission that these seeps are a problem Duke has not been able to deal with. However, as proposed, the details in the order are inadequate to ensure that coal ash seepage stops leaving Duke’s unlined sites on the banks of our drinking water reservoirs,” says Catawba Riverkeeper Sam Perkins. “This is a start and provides a framework for dealing with this issue, which has drawn out for years now. However, in its details, the order fails to ensure compliance and diligence that Duke has demonstrated it is either unable or unwilling to exhibit with its past, criminally negligent behavior.”
The Catawba River has two of North Carolina’s largest coal ash sites – Allen (Lake Wylie) and Marshall (Lake Norman). Since 2013, the Catawba Riverkeeper Foundation (represented by the Southern Environmental Law Center) has been engaged in litigation over water quality and permitting issues to secure real cleanups of these sites and ensure safe drinking water downstream.
There are other concerns as well. For example, the Catawba Riverkeeper has identified multiple seeps at Allen that are not included and that should be. It also fails to require monitoring for all coal ash-associated elements that have been found to exceed water quality standards.
“While the consent order requirements do move toward closure, they do not move toward cleanup. These are enormous, old sites. Duke has demonstrated it is disingenuous about putting forth the resources to diligently and safely maintain these sites. There is a lot we continue to figure out for Duke, such as the corroding original Allen discharge pipe for Duke last December (like what corroded at Dan River in 2014), as well as finding Allen’s original 1977 inspection report for Duke.”
“The proper, common-sense way to deal with the sites is to clean them up and recycle coal ash into concrete. This is being done throughout the rest of the Carolinas to mitigate risk and allow us all to move on from allowing this needless threat to our drinking water and the natural environment to loom propped up more than 75 high on the waterfront.”