Statement on Duke Energy Coal Ash Spill in North Carolina’s Dan River from Frank Holleman, senior
The following is a statement regarding today’s report by Duke Energy of a coal ash spill at its Dan River Steam Station in North Carolina from Frank Holleman, a senior attorney at the Southern Environmental Law Center who represents several conservation groups in court to seek cleanup of Duke Energy’s coal ash pollution at sites across North Carolina.
“Unfortunately, today’s spill of Duke’s coal ash into the Dan River is the latest alarm bell that Duke Energy needs to change its primitive way of storing coal ash in unlined pits next to our rivers and lakes.
It’s the latest spill in a string of spills and leaks into waterways, including drinking water reservoirs and upstream from drinking water intakes, and groundwater. Duke Energy has had coal ash structural failures at its Allen facility on the Catawba, at its Asheville facility above the French Broad, and at its Sutton facility on the Cape Fear near Wilmington.
Storing large amounts of coal-related toxic substances in outdated earthen pits beside rivers and lakes is a recipe for repeated disasters and pollution.
Despite the known threat and pollution, DENR hasn’t required Duke Energy to move the coal ash away from waterways and store it in a safer, modern way.
There are three major utilities in the Carolinas, and the other two are moving their coal ash out of unlined river-side lagoons to dry landfill storage away from waterways. Just downstream on the Catawba, SCE&G has agreed with us to empty out 2.4 million tons of coal ash from riverbank lagoons at its Wateree facility. And Santee Cooper has agreed to remove its coal ash from the Waccamaw across the state line in Conway and has pledged to remove all its coal ash from lagoons in the Winyah Rivers Basin, which reaches into both states.
Only Duke Energy is refusing to clean up its act. Duke Energy cannot raise the specter of higher rates; the other two Carolina utilities are removing their ash to dry storage without raising their rates. There is no reason that Duke Energy can’t clean up its coal ash and move it away from our rivers and lakes.”