RALEIGH: DENR to inspect all of Duke Energy's coal ash ponds - WNCN: News, Weather

DENR to inspect all of Duke Energy's coal ash facilities

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On Feb. 2, an old stormwater pipe running under a 27-acre coal ash dump at a Duke Energy's Dan River Steam Station in Eden collapsed, coating 70 miles of the Dan River with toxic sludge. On Feb. 2, an old stormwater pipe running under a 27-acre coal ash dump at a Duke Energy's Dan River Steam Station in Eden collapsed, coating 70 miles of the Dan River with toxic sludge.
RALEIGH, N.C. -

Regulators plan to inspect all of Duke Energy's coal ash facilities next week, the Department of Environmental and Natural Resources said Wednesday.

DENR said staff in the state Division of Water Resources will inspect all permitted and unpermitted discharge points at Duke Energy's 14 coal ash impoundments in North Carolina.

"As we work to address coal ash impoundments statewide, we will be taking a comprehensive look at all the infrastructure at these sites to ensure that spills like the one that occurred in Eden never happen again," DENR Secretary John Skvarla said.

On Feb. 2, an old stormwater pipe running under a 27-acre coal ash dump at a Duke Energy's Dan River Steam Station in Eden collapsed, coating 70 miles of the Dan River with toxic sludge.

Coals ash contains hazardous chemicals including arsenic, lead and mercury.

As a result of the Dan River spill, DENR issued two formal notices to Duke Energy for separate violations of wastewater and stormwater regulations. And on Monday, DENR announced that Duke Energy had been issued formal notices of violation at five more power plants for not having needed storm water permits, which are required to legally discharge rainwater draining from its power plants into public waterways.

DENR said officials plan to "map and photograph discharge points at the facilities with coal ash ponds, note the types of discharges and structural integrity of the pipes and other discharge outfalls, and collect and start analyzing water samples from all pipes."

DENR will also request that Duke Energy to provide regulators with its engineering and emergency action plans for all the company's facilities with coal ash impoundments.

"If we're going to address these facilities in a deliberate and thoughtful manner, we first need comprehensive data about everything we can learn about these facilities," said Tom Reeder, director of the Division of Water Resources. "All of this information will inform our future decision-making with regard to these coal ash impoundments."

State regulators indicated they had been aware since at least 2010 that some Duke Energy facilities lacked the required storm water permits, yet took no enforcement action until after last month's disaster.

Such a permit may have required testing and inspections that could have given early warning something was wrong with the pipe running under the huge coal ash dump at Eden before it collapsed. Tests performed on the water draining from a nearby pipe after the spill showed high concentrations of arsenic, an indicator that contaminated groundwater was leaking in from the dump above.

Duke Energy could face hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines for the violations.

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