Duke Energy releases alternate water supply plans for residents near coal ash ponds

Coal ash (file)

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Duke Energy announced its plans to provide an alternative water supply to people living next to coal ash ponds across the state.

The Utility was required to do so under House Bill 630, although it maintains coal ash is not the source of contamination found in nearby wells.

Duke Energy had until December 15 to file plans with the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality.

The water projects have to be installed by October 2018.

People living near the following plants will be offered public water connections:

  • Allen Steam Station in Belmont, North Carolina
  • Buck Steam Station in Salisbury, North Carolina
  • Cape Fear Plant in Moncure, North Carolina
  • H.F. Lee Plant in Goldsboro, North Carolina
  • Marshall Steam Station in Terrell, North Carolina
  • Rogers Energy Complex in Mooresboro, North Carolina
  • Weatherspoon Plant in Lumberton, North Carolina

Those residents will also be given the option of a filter system with long-term maintenance that Duke Energy said is equally protective of water quality.

People living near these plants will only be offered a water filter system with long-term maintenance:

  • Belews Creek Steam Station in Belews Creek, North Carolina
  • Mayo Plant in Roxboro, North Carolina
  • Roxboro Plant in Semora, North Carolina

Once NCDEQ approves the plans, Duke Energy will start working directly with the nearly 950 eligible households across the state to discuss their options.

“Throughout this process, we’ve remained focused on caring for our plant neighbors, including voluntarily providing bottled water during a time of uncertainty. Neighbors have told us they worry about their property values or the burden of new water bills, and we’re exploring ways to address that as we provide permanent water solutions in these communities,” said Mike Hughes, Duke Energy vice president of community relations in North Carolina.

Duke Energy said water plans for Asheville and Sutton Plant communities are being finalized and will be submitted to NCDEQ by December 15.

You can follow progress here.

HB630 has three main components:

  1. It gives the governor control over how Duke must clean up its ponds through the Department of Environmental Quality. This was originally a task for the Coal Ash Management Commission that was dissolved after McCrory sued, saying the commission had too much legislative control.
  2. The bill requires Duke Energy to provide a new, permanent water supply for people living next to coal ash ponds. That has to be done by 2018. The company says they are in the process of determining how and where those water supplies will come from.
  3. It allows Duke Energy the opportunity to change the risk classification of their sites from “intermediate” to “low”. This means they have the option to cap the ash in place, and cover it rather than dig it up and move it. In order to get a low classification, the sites must first be improved structurally, and alternative water must be supplied to residents living nearby.

“This solves one problem of providing drinking water to those who need it but it ignores many problems related to the environment,” said Dustin Chicurel-Bayard from the Sierra Club. “Specifically what’s going to be done with the coal ash and the impact that has on our rivers lakes and streams.”

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