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NC Seeks Public Input on Plans to Accelerate Draining of Coal Ash Basins

Comment on a consent agreement between Duke Energy and NC regulators!

The NC Division of Water Resources has released a draft “Special Order by Consent” or “SOC” for three Duke Energy power plants – Marshall (Catawba County), Allen (Gaston County) and Cliffside (Cleveland/Rutherford Counties). This agreement requires Duke to speed up the timeline for draining water from coal ash basins at these facilities – a necessary step to close them and should stop some of the ongoing leaking problems – but it also lets Duke off the hook for continued pollution of nearby waterways! Please consider attending the public hearing Feb. 13 at 6pm at the Warren Citizens Center in Lincolnton, or submitting written to: Bob Sledge, NC Division of Water Resources, 1617 Mail Service Center, Raleigh, NC 27699-1617, or to publiccomments@ncdenr.gov.

Clean Water for NC’s concerns about the SOC include:

  • Seeps are not legal discharges and shouldn’t be permitted. These uncontrolled leaks from the coal ash basins into groundwater and surface water resulted in Duke pleading guilty to environmental crimes in 2015 and paying $102 million in fines, yet now, DWR wants to include the intentionally constructed seeps in the facilities’ discharge permits!
  • The one time penalty of $84,000 ($4,000 per seep for 21 seeps) is not adequate for the harms that have been caused to water quality near these coal ash basins!
  • The SOC does not impose any additional requirements for physical or chemical treatment of coal ash basin water before it’s dumped in nearby water bodies; in fact, it relaxes some water quality standards applicable to discharges.
  • While dewatering ash basins is a needed step, the real solution to fixing seeps is removing saturated coal ash from leaking ponds and putting it in dry, lined storage away from waterways.

Comment on a revision to the wastewater discharge permit for Marshall Steam Station

Marshall Steam Station

Marshall Steam Station

At the same time that the SOC would authorize Duke to expedite the closure of coal ash basins at Marshall, Allen, and Cliffside, a draft modification of the Marshall NPDES permit unjustifiably delays a requirement to install new pollution controls and eliminates a requirement for the large volumes of wastewater to undergo physical/chemical treatment before discharge. Future NPDES permit adjustments of a similar nature are expected for Cliffside and Allen, so this is a precedent-setting action with statewide implications!

Send written comments on the Marshall Permit by February 13 to: Sergei Chernikov, NC Division of Water Resources, 1617 Mail Service Center, Raleigh, NC 27699-1617, or to publiccomments@ncdenr.gov (include “Marshall NPDES” in the subject line).

Click here to download detailed talking points about these two documents. Thanks for taking action!

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