Dan River

Duke Energy Sued For 2014 Coal Ash Spill Environmental Harm

Jul 18, 2019
BEN BRADFORD / WFAE

RALEIGH -- The federal, North Carolina and Virginia governments want a judge to declare the country's largest electricity company liable for environmental damage from a leak five years ago that left miles of a river shared by the two states coated in hazardous coal ash.

Duke Energy on Thursday announced more than $1.2 million in new grants to support environmental and wildlife programs in the Carolinas and Virginia.  The grants are from the company’s $10 million Water Resources Fund.

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

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.

David Boraks / WFAE

EDEN - Duke Energy has begun removing coal ash from a half dozen old coal-fired power plants across the Carolinas. One of those was the Dan River plant in Eden, North Carolina, on the Virginia border, where a major spill two years ago prompted new rules for coal ash cleanup and storage.  


Appalachian Voices

Duke Energy announced it has finished actively cleaning coal ash from the Dan River, a little less than six months after a massive spill turned the water gray. The bulk of the ash will remain in the river.

Between 30,000 and 40,000 tons of ash, containing heavy metals including arsenic and lead, spilled into the river in February. It flowed down the Dan River, collecting in pockets on its banks and bottom.

Duke has dredged three main areas—next to the spill site, from the water treatment plants of cities downriver, and, the largest, near a dam outside the city of Danville.

Duke Stock Up After 1st Quarter Earnings Loss

May 7, 2014

Duke Energy reported a nearly $100 million loss in the first quarter of this year—and its stock went up.

The loss comes from Duke selling its Midwest business—13 coal and natural gas plants—where it has less control over the price of electricity. The company estimates a $1.4 billion hit to its books. Other than the one-time loss, the company reported strong growth, partially due to a rebounding economy.

Regulators, Duke, Environmentalists In 3-Way Fight Over Coal Ash

Apr 9, 2014
Ben Bradford / WFAE

The failure of a Duke Energy coal ash pond two months ago not only spilled at least 30,000 tons of the waste into the Dan River, it spurred new scrutiny of how Duke handles the waste, what chemicals are flowing into North Carolina waters, and how the state oversees all of it. It has led to numerous revelations about leaks or cracks in other ponds, wastewater pumped into rivers, lawsuits, and federal investigations. WFAE’s Ben Bradford joined Morning Edition host Kevin Kniestedt to discuss the latest.


Duke Pushes Back Against State Environment Officials

Mar 28, 2014
Appalachian Voices

Duke Energy is denying accusations by regulators that it allows contaminated storm water to run unauthorized from its coal plants. It’s the first major pushback from Duke against state regulators after the Dan River spill—but not the last, the company says.


Waterkeeper Alliance

While a broken pipe was spilling at least 30,000 tons of coal ash into the Dan River, Duke crews were pumping coal ash wastewater into another river—the Cape Fear. Environmental officials accuse Duke of violating its permit and hiding information from regulators. Environmental groups blame the regulators.


Duke Energy

A North Carolina judge has ruled that state environmental regulators must immediately stop groundwater contamination from coal ash ponds at all 14 of Duke Energy’s coal-fired power plants. The decision is a victory for environmental groups opposed to how Duke Energy stores the leftover byproduct from burnt coal at its power plants, but it does not resolve what will happen to the ash.

Little Ash Removed From Dan River

Feb 25, 2014
Appalachian Voices

Two weeks since Duke Energy crews plugged a broken stormwater pipe, stopping a leak of coal ash into the Dan River, little progress has been made on removing that ash from the river.

NC Regulators Defend Their Policing Of Duke Energy

Feb 20, 2014
Duke Energy

North Carolina’s top environmental regulator defended his oversight of Duke Energy Wednesday as a criminal probe of the Dan River ash spill sought answers from his staff.

New Revelations During State Coal Ash Hearing

Feb 17, 2014
Appalachian Voices

State lawmakers got their first official chance to review this month’s coal ash spill, which poured at least 30,000 tons of the toxic byproduct of burnt coal into the Dan River. Monday’s meeting of the General Assembly’s Environmental Review Commission revealed more about the spill response than the company or regulators had previously disclosed, including a fortuitous construction accident that helped stem the leak.


Quake Rattles Carolinas, Georgia

Feb 16, 2014

As if a winter storm wasn’t enough last week, a small earthquake near the Georgia-South Carolina line shook both states late Friday, rattling residents hundreds of miles away.  

The U.S. Geological Survey reports a quake of 4.1 magnitude was recorded at 10:23 p.m. There were no immediate reports of injuries or damage. On Saturday, South Carolina DOT engineers were out evaluating bridges – standard procedure after a quake. The quake, about 7 miles from Edgefield, South Carolina, was felt as far west Atlanta and as far north as Hickory, both about 150 miles away.

Fallout Continues From Dan River Coal Ash Spill

Feb 14, 2014
Duke Energy

While the frightful weather took a lot of attention this week in Charlotte, up north the fallout continued from a coal ash spill into the Dan River. A broken pipe in a Duke Energy ash pond poured over 30,000 tons of coal ash into the river, until crews plugged it a week ago.This week another pipe failed, releasing wastewater; the justice department began investigating the spill; and environmental groups now say they have found another, unrelated leak from the storage pond that holds the coal ash. WFAE’s Ben Bradford joined All Things Considered host Marshall Terry to discuss the latest.


WFAE News staff was busy covering the week's snow and ice storm, so naturally it's a topic of discussion for Greg, Lisa and Brad - er, Ben (listen to the podcast and you'll understand). The trio also discusses the federal investigation of North Carolina's Department of Natural Resources over its reaction to Duke Energy's coal ash spill on the Dan River.


Ben Bradford / WFAE

A revised estimate shows less coal ash than previously thought leaked into the Dan River during a spill last week. Duke Energy now says less than 40,000 tons spilled into the river.

When that stormwater pipe burst ten days ago under a Duke Energy ash pond, the company estimated up to 82,000 tons of ash had spilled into the river, or about 8 percent of the entire pond. Water and ash continued to leak throughout the week as crews worked to plug the pipe. Regulators and Duke promised an updated number once the leak was sealed, which occurred early Saturday morning.

State Rethinks Duke Settlement After Coal Ash Spill

Feb 11, 2014

After last week’s coal ash spill, which poured at least tens of thousands of tons of the toxic byproduct of burnt coal into the Dan River, state regulators want to delay their own settlement with Duke Energy over its storage of ash at coal plants across North Carolina.

City Reports 2nd Case Of Illegal Chemical Dumping

Feb 9, 2014

There’s been another incident of illegal dumping into Charlotte’s waste water system. The city said in a statement at 4 o’clock this morning that more of a potentially cancer-causing chemical called PCBs has been found, this time in the Sugar Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant, off Tyvola Road.  The illegal dumping is in the wastewater treatment system, and officials say it does NOT affect drinking water.

Dan River Test Results Start To Come In

Feb 6, 2014
Duke Energy

Water test results are starting to come in from the part of the Dan River affected by a coal ash spill at a retired Duke Energy plant on the border of North Carolina and Virginia. WFAE’s Duncan McFadyen reports early results are in.


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