Officials at the state Department of Environment and Natural Resources have filed suits and threatened to fine Duke over coal ash contamination.
Attorneys from the Southern Environmental Law Center are focusing on plants in Chatham, Rowan and Wayne counties. Attorney Frank Holloman says the toxic hexavalent chromium has been seeping from the Buck Steam station in Rowan County.
"All of these are substances you do not want in these quantities, in your drinking water, in your body, in what your children eat or drink, or for that matter in your fish and wildlife."
In response, Erin Culbert, a spokesperson for Duke Energy, says the company is already working on closing its coal ash basins.
"We're going to continue along that path, and we're really planning to use a fact-based and scientific approach for the best way to close ash basins."
Last week, officials at the state Department of Environment and Natural Resources said they wouldn't take any actions on these complaints. They say the department has already sued and threatened to fine Duke.
Environmental lawyers say they're trying to force Duke to remove millions of tons of coal ash from its 33 ponds across North Carolina.