Judge: Duke must clean up groundwater at ash dumps

Published 12:00 am Thursday, March 6, 2014

(AP) — A North Carolina judge says Duke Energy must take immediate action to eliminate the source of groundwater pollution at its coal ash dumps.
Duke has three impoundments at the Buck Steam Station on the Yadkin River where it stored coal ash for decades before retiring the last of its coal-fired plants there in 2013.
Wake County Judge Paul Ridgeway’s ruling comes a month after a massive coal ash spill from a Duke facility in Eden coated 70 miles of the Dan River in toxic gray sludge.
It stems from legal action taken by the Southern Environmental Law Center in 2012.
The group asked the Environmental Management Commission to force Duke to take immediate corrective action when groundwater problems were discovered at the state’s 32 ash dumps.
But the commission ruled against the environmental group in December 2012 and they appealed the ruling.
The judge says state regulators failed to properly apply the law.
Earlier this year, Duke Energy spokeswoman Erin Culbert said since Buck is a retired site, coal ash is no longer being generated and ash basin discharges are minimal, and that the sites are continually monitored.
“… We monitor groundwater routinely to ensure neighbors are safe,” Culbert wrote in an email to the Post. “We have no indication of any off-site groundwater impacts across the state that would pose a health concern for neighbors. If we did, we would take steps to resolve it.”