Duke Energy yesterday said it will contest the civil penalty issued by North Carolina environmental regulators related to the L.V. Sutton Steam Electric Plant in Wilmington.
Earlier this month the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources fined Duke Energy $25.1 million for groundwater violations at the Wilmington facility.
“We cannot allow this level of regulatory overreach to go unchallenged,” said Duke’s Paul Newton, state president, North Carolina. “The actions by NC DENR send a chilling message to the North Carolina business community.”
The company says it will file a formal appeal with the North Carolina Office of Administrative Hearings by April 9 demonstrating the specific instances where it believes NC DENR acted contrary to law, exceeded its authority or jurisdiction, and didn’t follow proper rules and procedures.
Newton says the company takes groundwater monitoring seriously.
In 2013, monitoring data indicated that groundwater near the Sutton plant was starting to move in the direction of the Flemington community, which gets its water from Cape Fear Public Utility Authority (CFPUA) wells near the plant.
The water supply is safe and continues to meet federal and state drinking water standards, with a margin of safety, and there is no health risk to the residents.
The company says, in an effort to ensure the water remains safe, it initiated a partnership with CFPUA to fund the extension of a municipal water line to the area, eliminating the need for public drinking wells. That project will be completed in less than two years, well before groundwater impacts would reach the public water supply.
Additionally, Newton says the company will continue its efforts to close the coal ash basins as it proceeds with this separate legal issue. The company will close 32 ash basins across North Carolina.