Duke Energy's Asheville plant. Archive photograph by Micah Wilkins/Carolina Public Press

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Press release from the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources:

The dam that forms Lake Julian is one of three Duke Energy dams located its coal-fired electricity plant in the Asheville area. Archive photo by Micah Wilkins/Carolina Public Press

RALEIGH – Duke Energy has provided state officials with its plans for assessing groundwater quality at the utility’s 14 coal-fired power plants in North Carolina.

The N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources required Duke Energy to submit Groundwater Assessment Plans as part of the effort to cleanup or mitigate groundwater contamination at the utility’s coal ash storage ponds. The company met Friday’s deadline for submitting the plans to the state agency.

The plans include proposed site assessment activities and a schedule for implementation, completion and submission of a comprehensive site assessment report for each of the facilities. The reports are required to provide information concerning:

  • The source and cause of contamination; any imminent hazards to public health and safety and actions taken to mitigate them;
  • The location of drinking water wells and other significant receptors where people could be exposed to groundwater contamination;
  • The horizontal and vertical extent of soil and groundwater contamination and significant factors that affect how the pollution moves;
  • Geological and hydrogeological features that affect the movement as well as the chemical and physical characteristics of the contaminants.

The Groundwater Assessment Plans are the first step in identifying and putting in place corrective action for groundwater and surface water contamination from activities associated with the coal ash byproducts generated by the coal-burning power facilities.

Staff with the N.C. Division of Water Resources, a program in the state environmental agency, will review the plans and approve them or provide Duke Energy with a deadline to correct any deficiencies. Duke Energy must start working on its assessment plans within 10 days of being notified of their approval.

For each approved plan, the utility will have 180 days to provide the state with a report describing all exceedances of groundwater quality standards associated with each coal ash storage pond.

The assessment plans have been placed online and can be found at the following link on DENR’s website devoted to coal ash: http://portal.ncdenr.org/web/wq//coal_ash_gw_assessment_plans.

Angie Newsome

Angie Newsome is the executive director and editor of Carolina Public Press. Contact her at (828) 774-5290 or e-mail her at anewsome@carolinapublicpress.org.

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