Duke Energy Amnesty and Reduced Fine for N. Carolina Coal Ash Pollution Trigger Outrage

Monday, October 05, 2015
Coal ash from Duke Energy’s Dan River spill (photo: Gerry Broome, AP)

Duke Energy got a sweet deal from North Carolina’s Department of Environmental Quality.

The department agreed Tuesday to reduce what was a $25 million fine to $7 million for all of Duke’s coal ash pollution at 14 power plants in the state. The original fine covered only the damage at the company’s L.V. Sutton plant, where high levels of boron were found in groundwater, according to Common Dreams.

The settlement came as the sides were in administrative court for Duke’s appeal of the fine. Duke claimed it should have been given time to clean up its mess before it was fined.

As part of the deal reached on Sept. 29, regulators granted the company amnesty for coal ash dumps at all of its 14 plants. In addition, Duke will not face future groundwater violations as long as it complies with state legislation ordering it to close ash ponds statewide by 2029.

The requirements didn’t cover anything Duke wouldn’t have done on its own, according to Southern Environmental Law Center attorney Frank Holleman. The department “has voluntarily prevented itself from taking action to protect North Carolinians from coal ash pollution of their drinking water by giving Duke amnesty for past, present and future violations” at its power plants, Holleman told the Charlotte Observer.

Environmentalists were outraged by the deal.

“In another typical move, DEQ [Department of Environmental Quality] is cutting Duke Energy a break and failing to demand action,” Amy Adams of the advocacy organization Appalachian Voices, said. “Apparently, they missed the state motto, Esse quam videri, ‘To be rather than to seem,’ because seeming to be environmental protectors is about all they have done with this settlement.”

Coincidentally (perhaps), the state’s Republican governor, Pat McCrory, is a former Duke executive.

-Steve Straehley, Noel Brinkerhoff

To Learn More:

Duke Energy ‘Settlement’ Slashes Fine, Grants Amnesty for Coal Ash Pollution (by Sarah Lazare, Common Dreams)

Duke Energy Agrees to $7 Million Contamination Settlement (by Bruce Henderson, Charlotte Observer)

Settlement Agreement (Duke Energy) (pdf)

Duke Energy Admits Guilt in Coal Ash Spill Case (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)

Duke Energy CEO Wants Customers to Pay for Pollution Pond Cleanups (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)


Jon Crawford 8 years ago
Dear DOJ, Please investigate the conspiracy to hide the crimes committed by Duke Energy and our governor Pat McCory a former duke executive. I live in Belmont NC at the Allen steam plant and my home sit near plant and ash pits. The well water is contaminated with hexvalent chromium and vanadium and all of my family and neighbors have health issues ranging from cancer to autoimmune and stomach ulcers kidney failure and pancreatitis. I have read that coal ash can cause these issues and we wasn't warned until recently.my investigation leads me to believe the government and epa and duke has conspired to make light of the dangers we face and yet to come. Pat McCory is on Dukes side and is not protecting my family and kids and neighbors families. We need DOJ to launch a federal investigation of theses criminals in NC. We need to know like flint Michigan,who knew what and when of toxic waste existed in our water and what crimes were committed by Duke Energy and pat mccory. Its obvious that 60 minutes exposed these criminal acts. Please help us. We are Americans and should be protected by our government. We need justice in Belmont NC.Thanks for your time on this very serious matter. 704-678-6259. Born and raised in Belmont NC around coal ash.

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