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Here are some of the other stories catching our attention.

Duke Fined, Ordered To Speed Drainage Of Coal Ash Ponds At 3 Plants

A dam holding back a coal ash pond sits beside the Catawba River, in Gaston County.
David Boraks
A dam holding back a coal ash pond sits beside Duke Energy's Allen Steam Station in Gaston County.

Updated 1:45 p.m.
The state Environmental Management Commission has finalized a $156,000 fine and ordered Duke Energy to speed up work to contain leaks at coal ash ponds at three North Carolina plants. That's under a consent order approved Thursday by the state Environmental Management Commission in Raleigh.

The order affects coal ash stored at the Allen Steam Station in Gaston County, the Marshall Plant on Lake Norman and the Rogers Steam Station in Rutherford County. 

State environmental officials say contamination was found seeping into groundwater from a total of 21 locations at unlined coal ash basins at the three plants.  The state Department of Environmental Quality first issued violation notices about the seeps in March 2016. 

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Duke agrees with the order, which says the company must completely drain and divert storm water away from the basins.  Deadlines are March 31, 2020 for the Rogers plants, June 30, 2020 for the Allen Plant, and March 31, 2021 for the Marshall plant. 

The $156,000 fine was an increase over the $84,000 the state originally proposed in January

Duke Energy acknowledge the fine Thursday, saying in a statement it "provides clarity on how natural seeps from ash basins will be monitored, and it paves the way for the state to issue nearly a dozen permits that the company must have before it can continue to de-water and close ash basins."

See the final order on the DEQ website

David Boraks previously covered climate change and the environment for WFAE. See more at www.wfae.org/climate-news. He also has covered housing and homelessness, energy and the environment, transportation and business.