Southern Environmental Law Center

Environment
2:52 pm
Thu December 4, 2014

Two North Carolina Counties Want To Get Paid To Take Coal Ash

Duke Energy owns and operates 32 coal ash ponds at 14 sites across North Carolina.
Credit Duke Energy

Duke Energy’s plan to dispose of coal ash in abandoned clay mines in two North Carolina counties may hit a snag.

If coal waste was trash from your kitchen trash can, and ended up in a private landfill, the owners of that landfill would be required to pay a host fee of $2 per ton of trash.

Duke Energy’s plan to dispose of 20 million tons of coal ash in abandoned clay mines in Lee and Chatham counties should come under the same rules, say officials in Lee County.

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Politics & Government
8:56 am
Thu September 4, 2014

Environmental Advocates File New Lawsuit Against Duke Energy For Coal Ash Pollution

Credit Waterkeeper Alliance

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."

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Politics & Government
8:27 am
Fri August 1, 2014

A Road Repair Shortcut Could Be A Budget Perk For The Governor

A budget provision could give the governor power to bypass the permitting process to repair damaged roads on the Outer Banks.
Credit Outer Banks Real Estate / Flickr Creative Commons

A provision in the proposed budget deal would allow the governor to bypass environmental reviews for road projects along the coast.

It indicates that during a state of emergency, the governor could issue an executive order to waive the required environmental permits to replace state highways along the Atlantic.

The provision is said to be a recourse for municipalities whose sole access to the mainland is a state highway.

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Environment
5:00 am
Tue April 8, 2014

'Astonishing:' State Appeals Requirement To Clean-Up Coal Ash

Credit Southern Environmental Law Center

A North Carolina environmental agency is appealing a recent ruling that called for immediate action to stop groundwater contamination, caused by coal ash.

The Environmental Management Commission (EMC) is a state regulatory panel. Its members are currently appointed by three republican lawmakers. Two years ago the EMC said it didn't have the authority to force Duke Energy to clean up the causes of groundwater contamination at 14 sites around the state. Environmentalists filed a lawsuit, claiming the EMC wasn't properly reading or enforcing the law. State judge Paul Ridgeway agreed with that take last month, telling the agency it had authority to mandate that Duke deal with contaminants.

Now, that same agency is appealing the judge's ruling. 

"So the state is now on the same side of this appeal as Duke Energy, defending Duke against our effort to enforce the law against them," said DJ Gerken, an attorney with the Southern Environmental Law Center, who called this appeal astonishing. 

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Environment
5:35 pm
Fri March 21, 2014

Following The Coal Ash News: DENR Abandons Proposed Settlement

The Dan River bank with residual dark grey coal ash.
Credit Steven Alexander / USFWS

Officials with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) have announced they are abandoning a proposed settlement with Duke Energy over the clean-up of coal ash. The proposed settlement would have levied Duke with a $99,000 fine, but had no requirement to remove or clean-up coal ash at two sites in the state. 

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Environment
6:21 pm
Fri March 14, 2014

Dispute Over Latest 'Action' From DENR

The Riverbend steam station along the Catawba River was retired in 2013.
Credit coalashchronicles.tumblr.com

On Friday the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) announced it plans to modify Duke Energy water permit. Those water permits are administered by the state and adhere to federal guidelines for discharge. DENR says it plans to change permits so that Duke would be required to remove all coal ash from unlined pits at two plants - one along Lake Catawba near Charlotte, the other outside of Asheville. The changes would also call for Duke to dewater and close coal ash ponds at Lake Sutton (outside of Wilmington).

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Environment
10:50 am
Fri March 14, 2014

DENR Calls Duke's Coal Ash Clean-Up Plan Inadequate

Taking core samples of coal ash spill.
Credit Sara Ward / USFWS

The CEO of Duke Energy sent a letter this week to Governor Pat McCrory and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) outlining the company's plans for coal ash clean-up in the state.

Duke says the letter is a big deal.

DENR described it as inadequate.

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The State of Things
1:47 pm
Thu March 6, 2014

More Metal Pipes At NC Coal Ash Ponds

Coal fired power plant
Credit eutrophication&hypoxia via Flickr, Creative Commons

In the immediate aftermath of last month’s Duke Energy coal ash spill, concerns were raised about the existence of similar pipes at other ponds around the state. Yesterday, the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources, DENR, confirmed the presence of eight additional corrugated metal pipes at Duke Energy coal ash ponds. 

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Environment
12:57 pm
Wed March 5, 2014

Coal Ash Concerns, Lack Of Enforcement Revealed In Emails

On February 2, between 50,000 and 82,000 tons of coal ash and 27 million gallons of ash pond water waste were released at Duke Energy’s Dan River Steam Station (pictured above) north of Eden, N.C.
Credit Steven Alexander / USFWS

Internal emails released this week reveal that officials with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) have been concerned about coal ash ponds at Duke Energy sites for years.

The Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC) obtained the documents as part of its effort to close coal ash ponds throughout the state. The roughly 400 pages of emails reveal employees at the state agency were concerned about storm water runoff at six sites owned by Duke Energy.

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Environment
12:02 pm
Fri February 28, 2014

Were There Any Changes In Coal Ash Clean-Up After Other Disasters In The U.S.?

The cleanup for the 2008 Tennessee coal ash disaster. Image taken March 2012.
Credit Appalachian Voices / via Creative Commons/Flickr

At least 30,000 tons of coal ash poured through a broken Duke Energy stormwater pipe and into the Dan River earlier this month. The spill is the third largest of its kind in US history.

But that spill was much smaller than an accident in Tennessee six years ago.

It was the middle of the night, three days before Christmas in 2008 when part of a retention wall at a Tennessee Valley Authority coal ash pond ruptured.  A dike failed and millions of gallons of potentially toxic waste were unleashed.

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