RALEIGH: Bill to shut down coal ash ponds heads to NC Senate - WNCN: News, Weather

Bill to shut down coal ash ponds heads to NC Senate

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A collapsed pipe at Duke Energy's Dan River Steam Station dumped coal ash into the Dan River. A collapsed pipe at Duke Energy's Dan River Steam Station dumped coal ash into the Dan River.
RALEIGH, N.C. -

A bill that will shut down Duke Energy’s coal ash ponds will head to the state Senate on Tuesday for final concurrence.

Duke has 33 unlined ash pits at 14 coal-fired power plants across the state, all of which state environmental officials say are contaminating groundwater and threatening nearby rivers and lakes. Coal ash contains numerous toxic substances, including arsenic, selenium, mercury and lead.

The bill requires the nation's largest electricity company to close its ash pits by 2029 and close four high-risk sites — Dan River, Asheville, Sutton and Riverbend — within five years.

It then divides Duke’s other 10 sites into three priority levels. Other high-risk sites have to be cleaned up in 5 years, medium-risk sites have to shut down in 10, and low-risk sites will close in 15 years.

The bill offers Duke the ‘cap-in-place’ option for ash at low-risk sites, which critics argue is hardly clean-up, and says it still contaminates groundwater.

Duke Energy has asked the General Assembly for more time to handle its more than 100 million tons of ash.

The bill does not address who will pay for the cleanup. Both chambers voted down proposals to pass the bill on to the utility.

The bill does however put a moratorium on any rate-increases related to coal ash clean up until 2016. The Utilities Commission will be tasked with deciding who will foot the bill, which Duke Energy estimates could reach up to 10 billion dollars.

You can read the full bill here. You can read all of our coal ash stories here.

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