- The North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources expects to complete review of the retired Riverbend power plant coal ash ponds in time to allow Duke Energy to begin clearing them before summer’s end, the Roanoke Times reports.
- The DENR said the thoroughness of its response to the Dan River coal ash spill is aimed at making the clearance plan a model for the clearing of coal ash ponds at retired coal plants nationally.
- North Carolina environmentalists say the DENR is behind the curve on coal ash cleanup because it could have been underway in 2013. Coal ash is the residue of coal burned to generate electricity and contains chemicals that are toxic in ash pond volumes.
Duke Energy faces civil and criminal charges for the Dan River spill and other coal ash storage violations. Duke said it will plead guilty to criminal charges of violations of the Clean Water Act for Dan River and pay $102 million in fines, community services, and other mitigations.
The newly passed Coal Ash Management Act requires Duke to close all its storage ponds and safely dispose of the ash by 2030. North Carolina must clean up 108 million tons of ash in 32 ponds at 14 sites.
The first phase of clean-up will send ash, including the Dan River clean-up, to a private landfill in Virginia. Future solutions could include using lined ponds. The DENR has worked with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on its plans and the EPA has distributed the basics of it to other states.
The EPA’s ruling on the handling of coal ash, released in December, satisfied neither utilities nor environmentalists. It creates requirements and standards for the management of coal combustion residuals under Subtitle D of the federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA).