Perdue signs bill on stricter controls of coal ash ponds
RALEIGH ó Gov. Bev Perdue today signed Senate Bill 1004, increasing the safety oversight of coal ash ponds in North Carolina. The legislation subjects dams that create coal ash ponds to direct inspection by the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources.
“Because of potential risk posed by the location of North Carolina’s coal ash ponds, we must provide greater oversight and more frequent inspections,” said Perdue. “This legislation will keep our citizens safer and our dams more secure.”
In June, the Environmental Protection Agency released a list of 44 “high-hazard” coal ash waste dams across the county. Twelve of these dams were located in North Carolina, more than any other state.
A “high hazard” designation was created in the 1980s for coal ash impoundments and other similar dams that are near densely populated areas, downstream water supplies, important public utilities or primary highways because of the potential impact of a dam’s failure. The designation does not reflect the structural condition of the dam.
Currently, power companies are only required to file reports every five years by private engineers on the structural conditions of the dams. The reports are filed with the N.C. Utilities Commission and the impoundments are exempt from regulation under the N.C. Dam Safety Act.
This legislation, sponsored by Sen. David Hoyle (D-Guilford) and led by Rep. Pricey Harrison (D-Guilford) in the House, places coal ash dams and ponds under the regulation of the Dam Safety Act. This means the structures will be more closely regulated, and requires a state inspection every two years.