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State regulators issue notices for 5 other Duke Energy power plants

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RALEIGH, N.C. -- State regulators have issued notices of violation for five other Duke Energy power plants for failure to obtain a federally mandated National Pollution Discharge Elimination System, or NPDES, stormwater permit.

The notices are part of its ongoing probe into Duke Energy’s coal ash ponds.

The notices of violation are in addition to two issued Friday at the Dan River power plant in Eden where a failed 48-inch stormwater pipe caused a massive spill of coal ash into the Dan River.

DENR spokesperson Bridget Munger told FOX8 the violations were important because they have to keep tabs on any industrial site where rain water runoff could compromise water quality. "We need to work with that facility through a permit to try to keep as much stormwater on site as possible and to limit what pollutants are in the water that's going off site," Munger explained.

According to the violation, “Duke Energy has neither applied for nor obtained coverage under an NPDES Stormwater Permit for stormwater discharges from the site."

It basically means any stormwater not contained on site is not properly permitted or monitored.

Duke Energy has 30 days to respond to the notices for the stormwater violations for all five facilities notified Monday.

Scott Smith is the chief scientist for the non-profit organization Water Defense. He was on-site as soon as the coal ash spill happened.

"This scares the living hell out of me," he admitted. "What I saw firsthand in that coal ash spill on the ground myself? And now to find out there are stormwater permits aren't being followed properly? Maybe nobody really knows what in the water."

He said the permits represent accountability of the state and corporations.

"Every time it rains if you don't have proper filtering and monitoring of stormwater, you've got massive amounts of contamination just flowing into rivers, lakes and streams."

Following the coal ash spill, regulators with the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources began a lengthy review of the permit status of all 14 Duke Energy facilities across the state.

DENR officials determined that the company had neither applied for nor obtained stormwater permits for six power plants, including the Dan River Steam Station.

The five additional facilities receiving notices of violation are the Belews Creek Steam Station in Rockingham County, Cliffside Steam Station in Rutherford County, Lee Steam Electric Plant in Wayne County, Roxboro Steam Electric Power Plant in Person County and Sutton Steam Electric Plant in New Hanover County.

"There's one world, and there's one waterway and we're all connected," Smith concluded, saying he believes all citizens should be concerned about these multiple violations.