Under the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) ’s January 2 settlement agreement between the utility and the environment and other organizations, Duke Energy will save approximately $ 1.5 billion in coal ash cleaning costs. Duke Energy will need to dig about 80 million tons of coal ash currently stored in the basin of the utility’s six power stations. The ashes will be moved to the lined landfill this would be the largest cleanup of coal ash in American history. The utility will be allowed to leave coal ash in place at some of its locations.
Duke Energy is already closing all coal ash ponds at plants in multiple states, including 31 in North Carolina. Utilities across the United States are spending billions of dollars cleaning up coal ash stored near power plants across the country. Previous settlements and court orders called for the removal and excavation of coal ash at eight other Duke Energy sites in North Carolina, accounting for about 46 million tons of coal ash. The latest treaty now has a plan to clean up all of Duke Energy’s coal ash in the state, meaning about 125 million tons of coal ash has been or will be excavated nationwide and moved to landfills.
Duke Energy officials said the utility should now spend between $ 8 billion and $ 9 billion to clean up the coal ash, of which $ 2.4 billion was spent last year. The remaining cleaning costs will be incurred over the next 15-20 years. Excavations have been completed or nearly completed in 10 ponds, and materials in at least 12 ponds will be reprocessed and recovered as useful building materials.
The deal has saved Duke Energy about $ 1.5 billion, in part because it allowed utilities to bury ash in coal-fired power plants in Catawba and Renxian. The settlement includes the state’s six active and old coal-fired power plants, including Allen, Bellus Creek, Cliffside, Marshall, Mayo and Roxborough. Environmental and community groups have expressed concern about the handling of soot at the six locations.
The decision announced on Thursday will not affect the Dan River steam plant near Eden, which suffered an ash leak in 2014. The facility was demolished in 2017. Most people at Duke Energy have completed the disposal of the previously submerged ash. Years on this site. In 2016, the utility company agreed to a deal with DEQ to pay a $ 6 million fine for the leak. After regulator DEQ refused to support a utility company’s proposal to use a “capped-in-place” disposal method, Duke Energy requested a state administrative hearing in 2019 that would leave its ashes in North Carolina Power plant with waterproof cap.
This led to an agreement on Thursday to deal with the ashes, which is also expected to settle separate lawsuits filed by environmental and community groups that have already passed state and federal courts. These groups include Appalachian Voice, NAACP’s Stokes County Chapter, Mountain True, Catawba River Water Managers Foundation, Sierra Club, Water Managers Alliance, Cape Fear River Watch, Neuse River Foundation / Sound Rivers, Roanoke River Basin Association and North Carolina NAACP Conference. These groups are represented by the Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC).
Duke Energy pleaded guilty to federal environmental crimes in 2015 after previous investigations found that the company allowed the company to leak toxic waste into its water supply system at the coal ash yards of five power plants. The company agreed to pay a fine of $ 102 million and compensation. After polluting into the groundwater and the adjacent Catawba and Wide rivers, the utility agreed in 2018 to be fined $ 156,000 for similar state environmental violations at three other power plants.