- A previously-sealed shareholder lawsuit alleges Duke Energy officials knew for years of problems at the company's coal ash disposal ponds, including groundwater violations at all 14 locations in North Carolina.
- Duke disputes those allegations, and told Charlotte Business Journal its management has been actively engaged in dealing with coal ash disposal, even before the February 2014 spill into the Dan River.
- Last year, the company pleaded guilty to nine misdemeanor violations of the Clean Water Act committed by three of its subsidiaries associated with the Dan River spill, and agreed to pay more than $130 million in fines and damages.
Duke is facing several similar lawsuits regarding the Dan River coal ash spill, and fought to have the recently-unsealed documents remain private. Charlotte Business Journal reports that a small shareholder, Judy Mesirov, filed the last year in the North Carolina Business Court.
According to the suit, company leadership had "known for years that Duke’s coal ash ponds were seeping toxic chemicals into (North Carolina’s) soil and rivers."
The lawsuit goes on to allege that Duke's board of director's "was specifically told no later than August 27, 2013, that all 14 of Duke Energy’s North Carolina ash ponds had groundwater quality violations ... defendants also knew for years that at least six coal plants, including the Dan River Steam Station, were illegally operating without proper storm water permits.”
Asked about the allegation, Duke told Charlotte Business Journal that the company "continues to strongly disagree with the lawsuit’s allegations, many of which are contained in similar lawsuits currently pending before other courts."
According to Duke spokesman Dave Scanzoni, “Duke Energy’s board of directors and senior management team were actively engaged in coal ash management and environmental oversight before the February 2014 Dan River ash release, and they’ve been actively engaged since.”
The North Carolina Supreme Court ruled last summer that a recently-enacted coal ash law allows Duke Energy until 2029 to complete its cleanup of sites in the state. The Justices agreed the 2014 law, passed in response to the utility's Dan River spill, gives Duke until 2019 to close 4 high-priority sites and another decade to close the rest.