North Carolina environmental regulators have ordered Duke Energy to redo the first step in the process of cleaning up its coal ash ponds around the state. The company has to measure contamination from the ponds, and state regulators say their plans to do so are inadequate.
Contaminated water is seeping out of the earthen ponds and into the ground. The first step in the large coal ash law passed earlier this year requires Duke Energy to figure out the extent. The company submitted plans in September detailing how it would dig wells to sample groundwater, but now the state Department of Environment and Natural Resources says the plans lack key details and could overlook some contamination.
How many wells, what kind, what depths, the very specifics about well construction,” says DENR spokewoman Susan Massengale. “To make sure that the data is representative of the movement of contaminants.”
The amount of contamination will help determine how much work Duke has to put into closing the ponds at each site and how much time the company has to do it.
Environmental groups have criticized the measurements as unnecessary, since the state already has record of some contamination at all 14 of Duke’s coal plants.
Duke has 30 days to resubmit plans. State regulators say it could—but probably will not—delay eventual closure of the ponds.