Violations issued at Buck Steam Station, 11 other sites for coal ash leaks

Published 11:26 am Friday, March 4, 2016

By Josh Bergeron

Environmental regulators issued new violations today for 12 coal ash basins across North Carolina, including Buck Steam Station.

In letters to Duke Energy, the state Department of Environmental Quality said it was considering issuing civil penalties for wastewater seeps at coal ash basins. The letters say violations came after state regulators reviewed submitted documents and other records.

“There are unauthorized discharges of wastewater from the area around the subject facility’s coal ash basins,” the letter states.

State regulators could issue more violations if water quality standards at coal ash pond sites aren’t being met, according to the violations. DEQ asked Duke to submit any information that may mitigate the violations within 30 days.

Buck Steam Station’s three coal ash basins no longer receive waste from power plants. The ponds, however, contain water and coal ash from the now-shuttered, coal-burning facility.

In a statement provided to the Salisbury Post, Duke Energy said all earthen impoundments have seeps. Those seeps don’t affect water quality, the company said.

“We are doing everything the state has asked to address seeps, including cataloguing, testing and monitoring them,” the company said in a prepared statement. “Nearly two years ago, the company included seeps in permit applications to the state and has been working through the process ever since.”

In its statement, the company also discussed steps toward ash basin closure, which is required under the 2014 Coal Ash Management Act.

Buck Steam Station’s coal ash ponds, which sit on the banks of the Yadkin River, was recently rated low-to-intermediate priority for ash basin closure. The rating could mean Buck’s ash basins would be capped in place rather than excavated.

Contact reporter Josh Bergeron at 704-797-4246