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Hazardous Chemicals Found In Little Sugar Creek

Mar 2, 2016
Mecklenburg County

Mecklenburg county health officials are warning residents not to fish, bathe or drink water from a section of the Little Sugar Creek after tests found hazardous chemicals -- possibly from a nearby business. The warning covers an area of the creek between East 36th Street and Parkwood Avenue, and a tributary of the creek at East 27th and North Davidson Streets - near Cordelia Park.

Duke Energy

North Carolina regulators have given Duke Energy the go ahead to build two new gas-fired electricity generating units in Asheville. The $1 billion project will replace an existing coal-fired plant on the site, which Duke plans to retire.

The approval came over the objection of environmentalists who argued that Duke overstated the need for a new plant in the North Carolina mountains.

NC Department of Environmental Quality

Public hearings begin this week on proposed rules and deadlines for closing Duke Energy’s North Carolina coal ash sites. The rules are important because they’ll set deadlines for cleanups and determine whether Duke gets to cap the ash in place, or must move it to more secure locations.

Duke Energy

Consumers in Florida have filed a class-action lawsuit against Duke Energy and Florida Power & Light over what they say are unconstitutional charges for nuclear plant construction.

Duke Energy

Duke Energy has launched a new storytelling website focusing on people, energy and the environment and on Duke itself. Called Illumination, it grew out of an internal site aimed at employees.

“What we realized is that a lot of the stories we’ve been sharing with employees could be of great interest to either broad or niche audiences outside of Duke Energy,” says co-editor Greg Efthimiou.

Duke CEO Lynn Good
Duke Energy

Beginning a few decades ago, Duke Energy began buying up plants outside the U.S. It also acquired companies beyond the Carolinas that sell energy on the open market. Now, Duke wants to tighten its focus on what it calls its core businesses.

Carolina Waterfowl Rescue

The City of Charlotte has fined owners of the NASCAR Plaza building in uptown Charlotte for a November fuel spill that killed and injured wildlife in nearby Little Sugar Creek. City officials say cleanup costs for building owner Parkway Properties totaled about $83,000 - including a $4,200 fine.

Duke Energy

 A state administrative law judge has rejected local activists’ appeals of state permits allowing Duke Energy to dump coal ash at old clay mines in central North Carolina.

Environmentalists are disappointed over the Supreme Court’s decision Tuesday to put the EPA’s Clean Power Plan on hold. But they say it won’t slow progress in converting the country to a cleaner energy supply. 

NC Division of Parks & Recreation

Six North Carolina state parks attracted more than a million visitors each in 2015. Jordan Lake near Raleigh was the most-visited, with 1.6 million visits last year.  

Overall, a record 17.3 million people visited the state’s parks last year, up 11 percent from 2014. Good weather during peak season made a difference. But so did events, says state parks director Mike Murphy.

David Boraks / WFAE

Two years ago, 39,000 tons of coal ash spilled near Duke Energy’s Dan River plant in Eden, North Carolina.  That prompted new state rules and forced Duke to speed coal ash cleanups there and at other old coal plants, including Riverbend near Charlotte.  Some environmentalists support Duke's approach, while others are fighting it. WFAE environmental reporter David Boraks has been visiting some of these sites and has this report.

Aerial view of Duke Energy's solar farm in Conetoe, N.C.
Aerophoto America

Duke Energy has signed a deal with aerospace giant Lockheed Martin for power from a solar farm Duke completed recently in Conetoe, N.C., east of Rocky Mount. 

Gov. Pat McCrory
NC.gov

North Carolina is continuing to fight new EPA rules that limit carbon emissions from power plants. Gov. Pat McCrory's office said Wednesday night the state has joined 27 other states in asking the US Supreme Court to delay the Clean Power Plan, while the states challenge the rules in court.

Piedmont Natural Gas shareholders have approved the company’s sale to Duke Energy. Two-thirds of the company’s shareholders supported the deal at a special meeting Friday morning at its Charlotte headquarters.

Drawing shows design for the W.S. Lee Nuclear Plant in Cherokee County, S.C.
Westinghouse Electric Co./Duke Energy

Duke Energy has been reducing its reliance on fossil fuels, with the closing of old coal-fired plants and the expansion of solar and wind farms. But nuclear power is also an important part of the company’s energy mix, and that could be about to expand.

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.  


Ben Bradford / WFAE

Draft recommendations from North Carolina regulators would require Duke Energy to eventually remove coal ash from two-thirds of the company’s ash ponds at power plants across the state. That’s about the same number of sites that Duke has already said it’s targeting for ash removal. 

Mark Boone / Mecklenburg County

A cleanup of Little Sugar Creek has been completed after a diesel spill just before Thanksgiving.  Ducks along the waterway were covered in oil, but they’ve now been nursed back to health as well. Thursday morning, some returned home Freedom Park, just in time for Christmas.

Steve Hillebrand / U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

As 2015 comes to a close, uncertainty remains about the fate of a federal program in North Carolina aimed at protecting the Red Wolf from extinction. The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service has repeatedly delayed a decision on whether to continue or abandon the Red Wolf Recovery program that was started in 1987. WFAE’s Mark Rumsey has a recap of this year’s developments:

Catawba Lands Conservancy

Congress last week approved a bill that makes tax incentives permanent for agreements that conserve land and preserve open space. Lands conservancies are calling it the most important legislation in decades for their movement.
 
Since 2006, landowners have been allowed to take tax deductions for donating land or granting conservation easements - promises not develop their land. That’s been an incentive for property owners to work with local lands conservancies, the non-profit groups that manage conservation deals.
 

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