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Duke Energy

Duke Energy Begins Submitting Groundwater Assessment Reports

Duke EnergyDuke Energy has begun submitting comprehensive groundwater assessments to the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources (NCDENR) for each of the 14 coal plants in the state.

Duke Energy says it and NCDENR will use this science and engineering, along with other information, to determine how best to continue to protect groundwater as ash basins are closed.

The first three assessments address operations at the H.F. Lee Energy Complex (Goldsboro), L.V. Sutton Energy Complex (Wilmington) and W.H. Weatherspoon Plant (Lumberton)

While study continues, the assessments indicate:

  • H.F. Lee – Groundwater near ash basins is flowing away from neighbors’ private wells. Impacted groundwater has migrated off site in isolated areas where there are no private wells.
  • Sutton – As previously reported, the company is addressing off-site groundwater impacts by partnering in 2013 with the local water utility to extend a new municipal water line that is under way now and by installing 12 “interceptor” wells that will pump groundwater back to the plant. Private drinking water wells sampled by NCDENR to date show exceedances only for substances that are also naturally occurring and common in the region’s soil.
  • Weatherspoon – Groundwater near ash basins is flowing away from neighbors’ private wells. The area of groundwater impact is confined to the ash basin footprint and the former coal pile area.
  • Data demonstrate that water quality in the Cape Fear, Neuse and Lumber rivers has not been affected by ash basin operations.

Comprehensive site assessments for the company’s other 11 North Carolina facilities will be filed with regulators by mid-September, which is consistent with the requirements in the N.C. Coal Ash Management Act.

The next phase of work includes additional sampling and computer modeling in the next 90 days to better understand how groundwater conditions are expected to change over time. Where groundwater impacts need to be addressed, the sampling results and modeling will inform the best engineering solutions to protect groundwater long term.

In May, three Duke subsidiaries pleaded guilty to nine criminal violations of the Clean Water Act at several of its North Carolina facilities and agreed to pay a $68 million criminal fine and spend $34 million on environmental projects — the result of the massive coal ash spill from the Dan River steam station into the Dan River near Eden, North Carolina, in February 2014.



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One thought on “Duke Energy Begins Submitting Groundwater Assessment Reports

  1. If states such as North Carolina want to truly discourage utilities from having unlined coal ash pits, then instead of just fining the utilities that break the law they need to start doling out jail time to executives of these utilities as well. Believe me, $68 million is a drop in a bucket to the three Duke facilities.

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