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Energy & Environment
Here are some of the other stories catching our attention.

DEQ, Duke Energy Agree On $6M Fine Over Dan River Spill

The Dan River at Danville, Va. appears gray and coal ash accumulates in eddies downriver from the Dan River Steam Station in Eden, NC after a break in a storm water pipe underneath a coal ash pond at the plant.
John D. Simmons
/
Charlotte Observer
In a photo from February 2014, the Dan River at Danville, Va., appears gray as coal ash accumulates in eddies downriver from the Dan River Steam Station. A break in a storm water pipe underneath a coal ash pond caused the leak.

Duke Energy and state environmental regulators have settled a dispute over the size of a state fine over a coal ash spill near Duke's Dan River plant in Eden in February 2014.  

Duke agreed to pay $6 million for violations of the federal Clean Water Act during and after the spill in February 2014.

That's less than the $6.8 million fine originally assessed by the Department of Environmental Quality. Duke had challenged that fine in court.  

In a statement, DEQ said: "The $6 million settlement prevents the state from incurring additional legal costs associated with lengthy litigation and allows the state to focus all its resources on permanently closing coal ash ponds."

The fine is on top of millions of dollars Duke is spending to close the coal ash ponds at the Dan River plant.  Under the state's coal ash cleanup law, Duke must remove coal ash and close existing ponds at Dan River by Aug. 1, 2019.

It's also planning to excavate or cover coal ash basins at the rest of its coal plants. And Duke is required by law to provide permanent alternative water supplies to coal plant neighbors by Fall 2018.

The DEQ said that under the state constitution, the $6 million fine goes to a statewide fund for public schools.