NC Coal Ash Committee Meets: Here’s One Of The First Decisions Needed

Nov 14, 2014

Duke Energy's Dan River coal ash basin.
Credit Steven Alexander, USFWS

The long road to determining how Duke Energy will clean up its 32 coal ash ponds starts today. The Coal Ash Management Commission holds it first meeting in Chapel Hill.

Among the many decisions the Commission will make is classifying the ponds as low, intermediate, or high-risk.

If a site is classified as intermediate or high-risk, that will require a more comprehensive cleanup.

“The classification is really going to drive what the final closure plan looks like,” says Robin Smith, an environmental attorney and a former assistant secretary at the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

If a site is classified as intermediate or high-risk, that will require a more comprehensive cleanup.

“Duke Energy would be required to either completely remove the coal ash from the site and dispose of it or use it somewhere else or temporarily move it an convert the site to a lined landfill,” says Smith.

Duke Energy has estimated that removing coal ash from all sites would cost $10 billion.

Four sites are already set for closure. They are Asheville, Dan River, Riverbend, and Sutton. 

The Commission is expected to classify the other sites by the end of next year.